Recent Deals – 18 April 2023
Robots fighting the crop-weed-war; lithium mining, extraction and battery storage; and retrofit cooling towers with carbon capture capabilities – Recent deals worth looking at:
Agriculture & Food
Carbon Robotics (2016) is saving crop yields from the plague of weeds by designing robust and intelligent robots with autonomous and deep learning capabilities which offer precision weed control. These AI-powered robots have thermal laser-weeding technology and millimetre accuracy which cut weed control costs by 80% annually.
Carbon Robotics have scored $30M in a growth equity funding round led by Sozo Ventures, with participation from Anthos Capital, FUSE, Ignition Partners, Liquid 2 Ventures, and Voyager Capital. The funding will go towards supporting its sales, accelerating manufacturing, and pursuing its international expansion plans.
Further, Carbon Robotics confirmed that it has zapped over “500 million weeds across 40 different crops” to date and is on track to deliver its LaserWeeder to 17 U.S. states and three Canadian provinces in 2023, in turn solidifying its position as a staple ag-tech tool for cost-effective and efficient farming toolkits.
Energy & Power
Infogrid (2018) is riding the artificial intelligence (AI) wave into infrastructure management, using IoT sensors and AI to simplify data collection and analysis within areas of air quality, occupancy, and energy consumption. The vision is to turn all buildings into more than slabs of concrete – that is, smart slabs of concrete that comply with environmental and health needs.
Infogrid has secured $90M in a recent Series B round led by Northzone. The capital will be distributed across its product development efforts, team expansion and strategic hires, and customer acquisition plans.
The backstory behind the launch of Infogrid is the age-old saga of wanting change but being put off if it seems too complex or expensive. The founder, De Gruchy, discovered that infrastructure management teams had access to technology that would minimise environmental and health risks in buildings and facilities, but these technologies were expensive and complex to set up. So, to eliminate this simple but detrimental problem of convenience, Infogrid was set up to offer easy-to-use sensors and an AI software to help managers optimise building performance and adjust smoothly.
Materials & Chemicals
EnergyX, (2018) stores clean energy through direct lithium mining and energy storage solutions primarily through solid state battery technologies.
The company has raised $50M in Series B funding from GM Ventures to broaden its research and development efforts for pure lithium metal anodes and SoLiS, its solid-state lithium metal battery program.
Lithium batteries are recognised as a key part of the future energy transition, with EnergyX positioning itself as an important player within the energy storage value chain through its lithium extraction and refining solutions which can produce lithium metal directly from the brine itself and in anode-ready form. Lithium metal, as the most energy dense way of storing lithium within a battery, exploits the cathode limited nature of battery capacities by starting with a thin layer of lithium as the anode transitions the battery from a lithium deficient system (current lithium-ion batteries) to a lithium excess system.
Resources & Environment
Noya Labs (2020) has designed a technology to retrofit cooling towers with carbon capture capabilities. The company’s direct air-capture carbon technology adds a non-toxic chemical blend to existing cooling towers which absorbs CO2 without leaving any physical changes to the tower. The captured CO2 is then sold to companies using it as raw material. Its direct air capture technology is spun from a low capex and high modularity process, with a focus on developing an affordable and scalable option for carbon removal at the volume and cost needed to meet current environmental demands.
Noya Labs has raised $11M in its recent Series A round led by Union Square Ventures (who also backed Clue) and Collaborative Fund, with participation from Fifty Years, MCJ Collective, EQT Foundation, Climate Capital, and Nexwell Group. This fresh round of capital will go towards expanding its testing and manufacturing capabilities, growing its team, and launching its first commercial pilot towards the end of 2023.
Transportation & Logistics
Spring Free EV (2021) is an EV software platform aiming to accelerate the adoption of EVs through vehicle financing solutions that make EVs affordable (low fuel and maintenance costs) and accessible options for fleet owners.
The company announced the completion of a $31 million Series A funding round by Spring Lane Capital. The funding will be used to double the number of EVs that Spring Free has put on the road by the end of 2023. The aim to scale this figure and get over tens of thousands of EVs on the road by 2025, which at full-scale operation will allow the company to reach its expectation of cutting the upfront costs associated with using EVs by more than half the current figure.
While the EV financing space is fairly seasoned, Spring Free EV is one of the first to think of the little players and access the multi-billion-dollar market of 200,000 small and medium-size commercial fleets that are looking for affordable ways to become electric.
Tvarit (2019) provides industrial-specific artificial intelligence solutions to support zero waste metal manufacturing. The company has developed AI algorithms combined with chemistry-based simulations which aim to optimise processes, reduce false alarms, and facilitate data-focused decision making within metal factories.
To pursue its vision, Tvarit raised $5.4M in Series B funding, led by Momenta Partners and Futury Capital, with participation from existing investor Matterwave Ventures. As Tvarit works to bring its solutions to a wider audience, this capital will go towards expanding its global presence and accelerate its technology development plans.
The World Economic Forum found that industrial waste accounts for up to half of global waste, with the manufacturing sector being the largest contributor. To put humanity’s favourite measuring stick to this statement, the metal industry suffers a loss of $198B (€160Bn) annually to waste. Waste-free and energy efficient solutions for the metal manufacturing industry will cut this growing waste-stream down by aligning environmental needs with the financial needs and productivity demands of this industry.