Augmenta, an Athens-based agritech startup, has raised $2.5 million seed funding to improve the life of farmers through automated precision software that retrofits to existing farming equipment. The round was led by Hardware Club, the first global VC focused on hardware and full-stack startups, with support from Marathon Venture Capital.
Agriculture is one of the last frontiers for digitisation. It therefore holds plenty of opportunity for optimisation, and current global circumstances demand that it innovates now: rapid population growth and climate change put a strain on traditional farming practices.
The focus of the last century has been on large-scale farming, throwing chemicals at wide swaths of land to increase yields. New-age agriculture initiatives argue the next century’s focus should be on precision farming, as each square metre may need something different. With the right technology, such precision farming is actually easier and cheaper.
Augmenta co-founders George Varvarelis and Dimitris Evangelopolous believe they have just the thing.
“While the idea behind precision agriculture has always been a good one, the technology to make it immediately actionable just hasn’t been there. For the first time, we can deliver full, real-time automation and all the benefits that implies. We call it Augmented Agriculture and it is already making a difference,” said Dimitri Evangelopoulos, co-founder and COO of Augmenta.
He and co-founder George Varvarelis have introduced a solution that automates feritilisation seamlessly, laying an AI-driven camera system on top of existing farming equipment. Six to twelve multispectral cameras are installed to fit the farmer’s machinery. Using instant imaging and AI, the "Field Analyzer" system determines how much fertiliser each inch of land needs, and then actually applies it by controlling the machinery release/pace.
The result is higher quality crop, higher quantity crop, and lower amounts of fertiliser and the costs associated. An equally large selling point is that, after installing the system, farmers don’t need to change their practices at all.
“The Augmenta team is ecstatic to see their hard work manifested in actual, boots-on-the-ground results, making the lives of farmers around the world easier and more profitable. Most of our original team members have a farming background which makes us laser-focused on delivering practical solutions that can be seamlessly incorporated into a farmer’s day-to-day operations,” said Varvarelis.
After testing in eight countries, the offering is commercially available, with more solutions are on the way. Augmenta’s team is currently working on other crop treatments, such as pesticide and fungicide spraying, as well as specialized operations for vineyards and industrial tomato farms. New developments will be delivered via over-the-air software updates, so farmers don’t need to buy extra hardware.
In addition to further research, the new funding will go toward the company’s expansion in North and South America.