Sunday, June 16, 2024

Yorkshire agri-tech pollination start-up set to smash crowdfunding target just two days into month-long campaign

York-based pollination and insect biodiversity tech innovator, AgriSound, has successfully raised more than £200,000 of its £300,000 goal in just the first two days of a crowdfunding campaign designed to fund commercial hires and accelerate further development of its ‘game changer’ commercial pollinator monitoring devices.

AgriSound’s ground-breaking bio-acoustic listening device – the Polly – has put it on the map this year with the start-up seeing a relentless rise in demand.  Supermarkets including M&S and Tesco, business such as innocent drinks, and numerous commercial food producers and farmers are turning to AgriSound’s Polly devices to increase crop yields more naturally and reduce pesticides, in their search to cut the environmental impact of the average shopping basket and enhance the resilience and sustainability of the UK’s food production system.

Pollination is one of the most important natural processes on the planet and is essential for more than 75% of food production. Bees are vital pollinators to many fruit crops and provide £375bn of economic value; however, the bee population continues to decline. In the UK, research now shows that poor pollination costs up to £5,000 per hectare in lost yield and quality.

AgriSound’s solar powered ‘Polly’ is an automated, scalable, low-cost listening device that monitors bee levels within a field. These insights are displayed via a web app and are used to take targeted action to boost crop yields and protect bee populations. The monitoring device is a game-changer for farmers and food producers, giving them the tools to manage their crop yield naturally, with real-time, measurable data for the first time.

Polly was successfully launched to the UK market in January 2022, with 800 units committed for the 2022 season. AgriSound’s R&D to date has been funded through grants and private investment and the company’s first patent was filed in July 2022. Demand is increasingly escalating with interest, currently, from more than 35 organisations wanting to deploy Polly, as well as listen out for other animals and insect types. AgriSound operates a SaaS model (software as a service), with a monthly fee charged per device. Hardware is purchased and guaranteed for three years.

Founder and CEO of AgriSound, Casey Woodward, said: “The whole team is over the moon to see how far we’ve come with funding so quickly. Horticulture is a growing market, expected to reach $40Bn by 2026 (CAGR 10.2%) through the increased use of tech to address productivity challenges and investing in AgriSound in a great way for organisations to align with ESG expectations. So, we’re positive we can push the rest of the way to reach our crowdfunding goal necessary to onboard new commercial hires, improve manufacturing and support, and further develop our Polly device.”

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