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Small Robot Company raises BIG

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by Startacus Admin

Small Robot Company
We are delighted to report that Small Robot Company, a British agritech robotics startup for sustainable farming,has raised £1.2 million on Crowdcube equity crowdfunding. It reached its initial funding target of £500,000 within minutes of its launch thanks largely to support from the farming community.

The company’s hugely successful campaign received support from far and wide. Its biggest support came from the farming, technology and ‘eco’ communities. Investors included Matt Jones, Principle Designer at Google AI; Mark Ellingham, founder of the Rough Guides; and Andrew Ward, MBE, Farmers Weekly Farming Champion and Arable Farmer of the Year.

Small Robot CompanyFarming as a service startup, Small Robot Company harnesses the power and precision of robots and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to improve the way that food is produced and minimise chemical usage. It will make farms more profitable, and increase yield and efficiency, through using small robots instead of tractors. Its farmbots Tom Dick and Harry will plant, feed and weed arable crops autonomously, with minimal waste.

Small Robot Company were worthy finalist at upSTART 17 at Digital DNA and based on the business and the top personality of one of the founders alone - Ben Scott-Robinson, we knew they would do far.

We also featured Small Robot Company on Startacus in May 2018, so it's fair to say we've been keeping our eyes and ears to the soily ground.

This now takes the total funding raised by the Small Robot Company to £2.5 million in total to date. This includes two awards from Innovate UK, £300,000 seed funding from farmers (including £90,000 in presales), £50,000 raised from Indiegogo crowdfunding, and a £50,000 Horizontal Innovation Award from the the Institute of Engineering and Technology.

“Anything that can help change for the better the way we produce food on this planet is urgently needed,” comments Matt Jones, Principal Designer, Google AI, fellow of the Small Robot and investor in Small Robot Company. “I’m excited to invest and support the Small Robot Company team in their mission to change farming for the better with humanscale AI and robotics.”

Small Robot Company’s prototype Tom monitoring robot is already developed and in field trials on 20 farms across the UK, including the Waitrose Leckford Estate farm and the National Trust Wimpole Estate. This prototype embodies all the core technology needed for Small Robot Company’s farmbot family. This includes autonomy, Harry prototype robot together with Sam Watson Jones, co-founder, Small Robot Company Andrew Hoad, Partner & Head of the Leckford Estate, and Joe Allnutt, Head of Robot Awesomenessgeolocation, obstacle avoidance, navigation and the ability to accurately position objects on a map within 2 centimetres.

An early version of Wilma (its AI 'nervous system' and brains of the operation) was also unveiled at the WIREDLive Innovationfestival in November.  Wilma is the core of an intelligent, autonomous crop management system for arable farming. Following extensive field trials, and artificial intelligence training with partner Cosmonio over the last six months, Wilma can already distinguish Wheat plants from ‘Not-Wheat’, meaning any images of items that are not wheat plants.

Dick, its precision spraying and non-chemical weeding robot, will be developed through 2019. An early prototype for non-chemical weeding will be unveiled later in 2019, with micro-spraying and digital planting being developed for the end of 2019 and early 2020.

Small Robot Company will work in conjunction with its trial farmers to develop the technology from early proof of concept prototype to a more robust working model.

We've been featuring a good few agritech startups recently, so you might want to read up on:

Crover - technology to reduce grain storage losses

CropSafe want to make it easy to detect crop disease

FarmEye - The AgriTech startup that has agricultural traceability and sustainability at its very core.

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Published on: 17th January 2019

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