Halifax-based SkySquirrel Technologies has closed a $1-million investment round as it enhances its drone-based technology for monitoring and improving crop health and enters new markets.
The round includes a $500,000 investment from Innovacorp, Nova Scotia’s early stage venture capital organization, and $500,000 from an undisclosed Ontario-based private investor.
“This investment will let us ramp up to launch the next-generation of our product before the current year’s growing season is in full swing,” said Richard Van der Put, SkySquirrel co-founder and CEO. “We’ll also be able to hit the gas on pursuing new customers in the US and Europe.”
SkySquirrel’s technology surveys and collects data on crops, detecting diseases in the early stages and helping farmers understand how to improve growing conditions.
The company’s initial focus is on the $85-billion global wine market. SkySquirrel’s flagship product is helping commercial vineyards improve crop yields and reduce costs, tackling stubborn viruses such as leafroll disease and flavescence doree, where often the only solution for an affected crop is to tear out the infected vines before the disease spreads to the entire field. SkySquirrel is already selling its products in Canada, France, Spain, Switzerland, Chile and China. The company has also signed a partnership agreement with VineView, an industry leader from California that gives SkySquirrel exclusive access to unique image processing capabilities for disease detection in vineyards.
The company’s solution includes three integrated technologies: multi-spectral imaging equipment tailored for a drone platform, a cloud-based image-processing service delivering data to the end-user, and an unmanned aircraft system able to complete autonomous missions. Unique to SkySquirrel’s solution is the ability to go beyond generic plant health measurements and offer specific detection capabilities for diseases prevalent in vineyards globally.
“SkySquirrel has developed an outstanding aerial imaging solution for the high-value wine industry, and the technology has tremendous potential for other agricultural markets as well,” said Andrew Ray, investment manager for IT at Innovacorp. “We’re proud to back this strong team and technology.”