Photo credit: Jonathan Fleury
ApisProtect, an Irish agtech company using the Internet of Things (IoT) to monitor honey bee colonies, announced the close of a $1.8 million seed round of financing led by international venture capital investors Finistere Ventures and Atlantic Bridge Capital. Radicle Growth, the Yield Lab and Enterprise Ireland also participated in the investment round.
ApisProtect said it will use the investment to accelerate international expansion, opening its first U.S. office at the Western Growers Association’s WG Center for Innovation and Technology in Salinas, California.
“Our investment partners offer deep knowledge of the pollination services market, as well as the agriculture and IoT technology sectors,” noted Fiona Edwards Murphy Ph.D., CEO and co-founder, ApisProtect. “This investment will allow us to accelerate our expansion as we work to create an extensive global hive health database to power our machine learning insights. The aim is to help commercial pollinators and growers to optimize pollination.”
Beekeepers no longer need to rely solely on periodic, manual hive checks that can allow disease, pests and other issues to deteriorate hive health beyond rescue. ApisProtect said it helps commercial beekeepers more effectively manage colonies. The company now monitors the health of over six million honey bees in hives across Europe and North America, utilizing advanced sensors and machine learning technology into the hive. According to the company, this delivers a 24/7 early warning system so beekeepers can give at-risk hives immediate attention and improve bee health, giving beekeepers actionable insights and alerts with the aim to help prevent losses and increase colony productivity.
Contributing $174 billion worth of pollination to the agri-food industry annually, honey bees play an essential role in global food production. One third of all food that we eat depends on pollinators, and there are 91 million managed beehives worldwide. However, U.S. commercial beekeepers experienced declines of 38 percent of colonies in 2015-2016. ApisProtect intends to reduce colony loss and improve the yield of commercial beekeeping.
“With a science-driven, multi-disciplinary leadership team, ApisProtect is primed to fundamentally change the way commercial beekeepers around the globe manage their hives,” added Kieran Furlong of Finistere Ventures. “Our Ireland Agtech Fund is dedicated to investing in early stage agtech companies reshaping the global food and ag industries. ApisProtect was the prime candidate for the fund’s first Irish investment. There is a need for technologies to aid pollination in agriculture, and the ApisProtect hive monitor technology has massive potential in key markets like California.”
Alison Crawford at Atlantic Bridge added, “Atlantic Bridge is delighted to welcome ApisProtect to our growing portfolio in the University Fund, an $80m Fund, focused on commercializing cutting edge research from leading institutions. ApisProtect is uniquely placed to disrupt a global, well-established industry with robust technology developed by Fiona Edwards Murphy, following her award winning PhD research at University College Cork, Ireland. Atlantic Bridge has a strong track record of supporting Irish companies through key stages of development and helping them commercialize their technology globally through our network in European, the US and China. We believe ApisProtect has the potential to ultimately help commercial pollinators and growers to optimize pollination.”
Atlantic Bridge co-led the seed round with Finistere Ventures, which made its first investment from the Ireland AgTech Fund (a partnership between Finistere Ventures and the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund). Radicle Growth, an Agtech acceleration fund, played a role in the round and is actively supporting ApisProtect’s U.S. expansion efforts.
This investment will allow ApisProtect to rapidly scale – deploying its IoT technology to more climates, bee sub-species and bee foraging areas. Its key focus will be establishing a presence in North America, South Africa and the United Kingdom, as well as growing its team in Ireland.
Kieran Furlong, Finistere Ventures, and Alison Crawford, Atlantic Bridge Capital, will join the Board of Directors and draw on their expertise and extensive networks in the ag and tech communities to help navigate the company’s global expansion.