Saga Robotics raises £8.5M to fund growth of Thorvald autonomous ag robot

02-11-2022 | |
Norwegian agri-technology company Saga Robotics, developer of the Thorvald autonomous ag robot, has raised £8.5 million to accelerate their growth within the strawberry sector in the UK, and accelerate further growth internationally, expanding on their current roster of US, Italy and Norway.
Thorvald is an autonomous robotic platform which currently focuses on reducing powdery mildew through UV-C treatment. - Photo: Saga Robotics

Norwegian agri-technology company Saga Robotics, developer of the Thorvald autonomous ag robot, has raised £8.5 million to accelerate their growth within the strawberry sector in the UK, and accelerate further growth internationally, expanding on their current roster of US, Italy and Norway.

Since 2014, the company has developed Thorvald, an autonomous ag robot which currently focuses on reducing powdery mildew through UV-C treatment.

Through private placement, a new shareholder, Norwegian industrial investment company Aker, has invested £4.3 million in return for a share of 13.5% in the company. Aker now joins existing shareholders, Nysnø Climate Investment, Rabo Food and Ag Innovation Fund and Hatteland, who invested a further total of £3.4 million, and together now own 31.2% of Saga Robotics. Other stakeholders include Cibus Enterprise Fund, advised from London.

Anne Dingstad is Saga Robotics' newly appointed CEO. - Photo: Saga Robotics
Anne Dingstad is Saga Robotics’ newly appointed CEO. – Photo: Saga Robotics

Newly appointed CEO of Saga Robotics, Anne Dingstad comments, “Aker is Norway’s leading industrial company, so naturally we’re very pleased to have them join our ownership group. As a partner they will contribute huge expertise to Saga Robotics and, together, we will further develop the company and contribute to sustainable, modernised and efficient agriculture.”

Also read: Anne Dingstad, CEO Saga Robotics: Increasing adoption of ag robots as more growers ‘get it’

Saga Robotics is currently focussing on scaling up in the UK. “We are growing interest and demand whilst undertaking research internally, which will determine the other geographical markets we move into in the future,” the company adds.

Farming-as-a service model

Thorvald is offered through a farming-as-a service model. Saga Robotics says this means very limited capital investment is required from growers to rent the service, giving them low risk and high flexibility.

When it comes to service and maintenance, Saga Robotics says there are several robots in each country that the company operates in. These are all monitored remotely by Saga Robotics at all times whilst in operation, “meaning the treatment can be delivered safely and consistently using the minimum of on-farm labour”.

More than 50 Thorvald robots in operation in 5 countries

Saga Robotics currently has more than 50 autonomous Thorvald robots in operation in 5 countries. In the UK, during the last season, the Thorvald autonomous ag robot covered more than 30 hectares of strawberry production in plastic tunnels at Clock House Farm and drew strong interest from a number of other British strawberry farms. The new funding will allow for further growth in the UK to build on these results.

Beyond the UK, Thorvald’s platform is being used in viticulture. In this sector a slightly taller version of the strawberry-treating robot is able to perform similar tasks on vines and across vineyards.

Claver
Hugo Claver Web editor for Future Farming
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