Halifax, Nova Scotia-based SkySquirrel Technologies says it 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 company says it has worked for the past three years with partners in California, Canada, France and Chile to develop drone-based imaging technology for detecting disease in vineyards.
The round includes a $500,000 investment from Innovacorp, an early-stage venture capital organization in Nova Scotia, and $500,000 from an undisclosed private investor in Ontario.
SkySquirrel says its product helps commercial vineyards improve crop yields and reduce costs by 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.
The company’s solution includes 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.
“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,” says Richard Van der Put, SkySquirrel’s co-founder and CEO. “We’ll also be able to hit the gas on pursuing new customers in the U.S. and Europe.”
The company has also signed a partnership agreement with California-based VineView, which gives SkySquirrel access to unique image-processing capabilities for disease detection in vineyards.
“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,” comments Andrew Ray, investment manager for IT at Innovacorp. “We’re proud to back this strong team and technology.”