San Francisco-based FarmWise, a maker of adaptive autonomous farming equipment, has raised $5.7 million in seed funding. The investors included Playground, Felicis Ventures, Basis Set Ventures and Valley Oak Investments. In addition to the funding, Bruce Leak, inventor of QuickTime and co-founder of WebTV, is joining FarmWise’s board of directors.
SAN FRANCISCO, December 18, 2017 — FarmWise, creator of adaptive autonomous farming equipment, has secured $5.7 million in seed funding to help pilot its autonomous weeding machine. In conjunction, FarmWise has finalized its first pilot contracts with large vegetable growers in California.
“At FarmWise, our mission is to work with farmers to increase their productivity, grow healthier crops, and make food production more economically and environmentally sustainable,” said Sebastien Boyer, co-founder and CEO of FarmWise. “Demand for organic food has been growing 10 percent year-over-year for the last ten years. This funding will help us bring one of the first fully autonomous solutions in US farms to the market next year and allow us to help farmers be more efficient and engage in more sustainable farming.”
The FarmWise machine employs computer vision, deep learning, and plant recognition for effective weeding. It replaces herbicides, increases yields, can adapt seamlessly to different crops. Furthermore, its machine learning algorithms will enable it to adjust to additional farming tasks over time.
This seed funding will enable FarmWise to pilot their first autonomous machines on some of the largest vegetable farms in the US and will help the company expand its engineering team. The funding is led by renowned venture fund Playground co-founded by Peter Barrett, as well as Felicis Ventures, investors in Cruise and Fitbit; Basis Set Ventures, an AI-specific fund focused on enabling performance productivity; and Valley Oak Investments, an investment firm focused on early-stage food, agriculture, and health & wellness companies.
In addition, FarmWise welcomes Bruce Leak, inventor of QuickTime and co-founder of WebTV, to its Board of Directors. Bruce brings with him his expertise in growing small projects into billion dollar companies.
Founded in 2016, FarmWise continuously works with farmers to better understand and address the issues and constraints they face. The company wants to shape the future of vegetable farming, a $17 billion industry in the US alone, with machines that can adapt to different tasks to meet the needs of each farmer and each plant, at any time. FarmWise machinery is made locally to be durable and easy-to-integrate into a farm’s daily routine.
The company’s first machine offers high-precision weeding and smart thinning. FarmWise aims to deploy their first commercial weeders next year, following the success of this pilot program.