The world is running out of water. Demand for water continues to grow a staggering 60% every decade for the past fifty years, and supply is now hitting a brick wall: Within twelve years, over two thirds of the world is expected to experience shortage of water. Such water shortage has far reaching and imminent implications, since over 40% of the world’s food is provided by irrigated agriculture. CropX’s concept is simple. Land is not homogeneous, and hence water absorption and its availability to plants varies greatly across a field. Current irrigation systems waste a lot of water because they water fields evenly. CropX’s uniqueness and focus is on ‘listening to the ground’, and providing each part of a field exactly the right amount of water that it needs, at any given time.
Support Provided to Date: Investment raising, Business Management Acquisition, Board Assignments
New Zealand Investors: MiG, Sparkbox, GD1
Founding team Isaac Bentwich, CEO A physician by training, Bentwich founded two Israeli companies that have both become world leaders in their respective fields. The first, Pegasus, was one of Israel’s first medical software success stories and was acquired for $15 million by HBOC (now McKessen) in 1995. His second, the biotech company Rosetta Genomics (NASDAQ:ROSG), is a world leader in its field and its subsidiary, Rosetta Green (TASE:RSTG) was recently acquired for $35 million by Monsanto (NYSE:MON, $55B). Marcel Van Der Assumm, Director Appointed in 2000, Van Der Assum was the first CIO of Fonterra. He served in the role until 2005 when he became a Professional Director and Independent Advisor. His roles include Chairman of Voco Ltd and GreenButton Ltd, Director of Simpl Group Ltd, SYL Semantic Ltd, and Yonix Ltd, Partner in Lush Design Gallery, and an Advisory Board position with New Zealand Inland Revenue. GreenButton, SYL and Yonix are early stage companies addressing a global market from New Zealand. Marcel’s has a passion for innovative entrepreneurial companies, or larger organizations driving aspirational transformation. Previous to his role at Fonterra, he was Managing Principal of Unisys New Zealand and held leadership roles in various global functions. He has worked across many industry sectors, government entities, and in most geographies. He is Board member of Angel HQ and Angel Association of NZ, and a member of Ice Angels, Institute of Directors and Business for Social Responsibility.
Calf SMART is an automated, cloud-based calf rearing system design for the New Zealand environment and poised to deliver positive results for the dairy industry. The largest 15% of New Zealand’s dairy farms rear 35% of the country’s replacement heifers and are the immediate market for Calf SMART. Entrepreneur Ben Neal launched Calf SMART to provide automated calf rearing systems designed for the New Zealand environment. With prototypes in commercial trials, Calf SMART is near market and the seed money will be used mainly for further product development, sales and marketing. Neal expects product to be ready for autumn calving in February 2015.
Support Provided to Date: Investment raising (Pre-Seed & Seed), Business Management Acquisition, Board Assignments, Strategy and Business Plan.
Investors: MiG, Sparkbox, GD1
Founding team Ben Neal, CEO Founder and CEO Ben Neal grew up on a dairy farm in Dannevirke, gained a BEng (Automation) from Massey University and an NZCE Mechanical, and worked in the UK as a field engineer and in business development in the offshore oil and gas sector. Upon returning to New Zealand, he worked in the energy sector, and in 2012 he launched Farmspec, which provides irrigation and environment monitoring services. Larry Ellison, Director Larry and Jane Ellison launched Rural Fuel in 1998. In 2013, the company which delivers fuel to farmers, contractors and transport operators across the lower and central North Island, was sold to BP. Larry is also the founder of Smart Solutions, which invests in agri-tech ventures.
BioLumic is developing products to support today’s growers of food in their efforts to feed the nine billion people forecast to populate the planet by 2019. BioLumic combines advanced plant science founded at Massey University and technology to allow growers greater yields for the future.
Support Provided to Date Technology transfer, Investment raising (Pre-Seed & Seed), Business Management Acquisition, Board Assignments, Strategy and Business Plan Development
Investors: MIG, Sparkbox, GD1, NZVIF
Founding Team Dr Jason Wargent, CTO The founder of Biolumic, Dr Wargent is an applied plant physiologist who is passionate about turning his knowledge on the responses of plants and horticultural systems to UV light into UV Treatment systems that maximise returns for growers. Trained in the UK, Dr Wargent has published a number of major studies describing the possible agronomic benefits which UV light can provide. His research focus for the last ten years has been on the responses of plants and horticultural systems to UV Light. Warren Bebb, CEO Warren Bebb is an experienced marketer and business development professional, including overseas posts with NZ’s biggest multi-national. He has spent the last 8 years working in and with startups and brings considerable early stage market development and commercial expertise to the company.
PolyBatics biobeads are based on the natural ability of bacteria to produce bioplastic particles. Combining this natural process with the tools of molecular biology, PolyBatics is able to produce lower toxicity, multi-funcionality biobeads in a single, efficient step. Multiple functions can be engineered onto the beads enabling complex chemical reactions, or capture and reporter molecules for use in diagnostics.
Support Provided to Date Investment raising, Business Management Acquisition, Board Assignments
Investors: MIG, Sparkbox, GD1
Founding Team Dr Bernd Rehm, CTO Bernd’s research focuses on microbial biosynthesis of polymers and biosurfactants as well as on the self-organisation of biological nanostructures produced by microorganisms. The biosynthesis of alginates, polyhydroxyalkanoates (bioplastics, biopolyester) and rhamnolipids and the formation of intracellular polymer and protein self-assemblies are investigated. These studies involve synthetic biology approaches and the application of a broad spectrum of imaging techniques as well as a variety of analytical methods. Tracy Thompson, CEO The founding CEO, Tracy has raised NZ$5.2M for the development and commercialization of a platform manufacturing technology. Prior to joining PolyBatics, Tracy was the senior investments manager for Plant & Food Research. A California native, Tracy was Business Development Manager for Agilent Technologies, Director of Business Development for Affymetrix and COO, VP Business Development for Polymer Technology Systems, Inc.
Xenos Limited are pioneers in the aseptic manufacturing industry having developed and commercialised a compact technology for aseptic processing and packaging that now has a global reach. Established in 2003, the privately-owned company works at the forefront of the aseptic service industry, providing beverage producers with adaptable filling systems that guarantee a high degree of product safety.
Anzode owns an exclusive license to zinc battery technology, which has been patented in more than 30 countries and territories. The technology has attracted interest from the US military, a major US consumer electronics firm, the world’s largest manufacturer of electronic components for cellphones and laptops and other companies. Anzode rose over $4 million in angel capital to mass produce the new batteries for commercialisation.
Speirs Nutritionals is a Palmerston North-based company who specialise in manufacturing and exporting omega-3 products. This functional food business has commercialised Massey University Technology that allows high levels of Omega 3 oils to be included in every day food items, with no impact on taste or smell. Speirs Nutritionals signed a worldwide distribution deal with UK-based Croda International to market the Omega 3 products under the brand Omelife.
Mesynthes develops medical devices for tissue repair and reconstruction based on its proprietary extracellular matrix technology. The company’s major focus is in soft tissue reinforcement and wound care applications.
BigLittleBang enables kids of all ages to have fun and be creative with music, regardless of their musical background. Visitors create their own unique avatar, explore planets and make music with other kids Kids can make new friends and connect with existing friends through a wide variety of safe social networking features such as blogs, newsfeeds, chat and buddy lists.
MusicHype is a web-platform where bands, artists & their digital teams can identify their true fans, then give those fans the recognition they deserve. They use a unique tracking system to gather this information and engage fans. The company has launched in the USA and has some customers. It is still in start-up phase.
Booktrack creates synchronized soundtracks for e-books that automatically matches music, sound effects and ambient sound to your reading speed to create an immersive reading experience. Funded by investors including, Peter Thiel, co-founder and former CEO of PayPal, — and in partnership with the largest publishing houses, best-selling authors, and award-winning composers and musicians — Booktrack is already well on its way to creating a new genre of entertainment.