In-house AI skills focus and smart hires sows the seeds of £4m funding success
Agritech start-up Small Robot Company has raised a further £4m in its latest crowdfunding campaign, thanks to its focus on securing top talent and building in-house capabilities in artificial intelligence (AI).
Over 2,500 retail investors backed the campaign, with the initial target of £2m raised on the day of launch. The campaign then doubled the target, reaching the stretch ceiling of £4m and closing the campaign early, overfunding by 200%.
Aiming to use technology to revolutionise farming, maximising food production while making it more precise, sustainable and profitable, Small Robot Company has spent its first four years developing and proving its robotic technologies.
This latest funding will finance the company’s service for farmers and corporate customers with per plant data, particularly focused on accelerating artificial intelligence (AI) modelling. It will also commercialise its per plant action capability.
The systems work together to create an end-to-end solution for farmers, with ‘Wilma’ the brains behind the outfit, providing AI-led data and instructions to ‘Tom’ (mapping and monitoring), ‘Dick’ (weeding) and ‘Harry’ (planting).
It is the latest in a string of successes for the company, which has now secured £11m in funding, including £9.4m from its previous Crowdcube rounds, and £1.56m grants from Innovate UK.
Small Robot Company took the strategic decision at the end of 2020 to focus on growing its in-house AI capabilities and using funds from its previous investment round, has attracted a raft of big industry names to its team. These include:
- David Moser (CTO) – previously Director of Research and Technology at Blatchford
- Charlie Box (Head of Innovation) – previously in Dyson’s innovation team
- Tom Watsham (Head of Intelligence) – previously Research Scientist at Google DeepMind, leading on its Google Assistant development
- Shereen Okotie (Inception Manager) – previously Senior Project Manager at Dyson
- Kieran Southward (Electronics Engineer) – previously Systems Engineer at Haas F1 Team
- Ross Cassells (Experience Designer) – previously Product Designer at Hummingbird
CEO and Co-founder, Ben Scott-Robison, said: “This funding round is transformative to Small Robot Company. The 2,600 investors have provided us with the resources to deliver on our promise to farmers and corporate customers. It is proof, not only that Small Robot Company is technically capable of delivering the change that farmers need, but that there is overwhelming public and industry support for delivering our vision, and the need for per plant farming in the food system of tomorrow.”
President and Co-founder, Sam Watson Jones, added: “At Small Robot Company, we are four years into an exciting journey. It has been four years of amazing technology achievements, but we are still right at the start of what we want to achieve as a commercial entity. We now begin moving from having working, unique and patented technology, to where we want to be, which is a large and profitable business having a huge impact on the way our food is produced.”
- Small Robot Company is providing farmers with new AI-led ways of managing their arable land, making farming more precise, sustainable and profitable
- The company’s £4m crowdfunding success is the latest in four rounds on Crowdcube, and it has also secured Innovate UK grants, taking the company to £11m funding so far
- The company has committed to developing its in-house AI capabilities as its strategic differentiator and thanks to previous funding rounds, has recruited a raft of big industry names to take this forward
- Find out more about Small Robot Company: https://www.smallrobotcompany.com/
- Visit UMi’s platform to help you find the right finance for your company: https://www.weareumi.co.uk/webapp/finding-money/managing-money/
Photo: Ben Scott Robinson with Tom and Dick robots.