Dutch dairy AI platform Connecterra has raised €4.2 million ($4.9 million) in Series A funding including a €1.7 million non-dilutive grant from the European Union. The round was led by Russian venture capital firm Sistema VC with investment from online venture capital platform AgFunder, UK VC 7percent Ventures, early-stage tech VC Acequia Capital, and industry veteran Henk Bles. Existing investors Breed Reply, the specialist early-stage IoT investor, angel investor Elias Tabet and MENA Ventures, the angel fund, also invested.
Connecterra’s Intelligent Dairy Farmers Assistant “Ida” is an artificial intelligence-powered service that uses data collected from dairy cows to offer meaningful insights and recommendations. Ida’s mission is to help farmers’ run the worlds most efficient dairy farm.
The grant was awarded by the EU’s Horizons 2020 programme to just 2% of those that applied, according to Yasir Khokhar, CEO of Connecterra.
“Non-dilutive grant funding is always great to see in an investment, particularly when won against a strong competitive field as was the case here,” said Michael Dean, chief investment officer at AgFunder. “This underpins our view that Connecterra has the highest quality team and the most advanced technology operating in digital animal agriculture.”
Ida collects farm and behavioral data about the cows that are then processed and analyzed by Ida to detect health issues such as mastitis or lameness at least 24 hours before they are critical. Ida can also tell dairy farmers when cows are on heat and the best time for insemination as well as those that are having feeding issues including digestive disorders such as ketosis. In the near future, Ida will determine when a cow is expecting to calve, and Connecterra is testing the ability to identify cows that are most efficient and thereby could be better suited for breeding for future generations.
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Ida can also track changes on the farm and tell you what the impact of the change is on the behavior of the cows through the wearable sensors worn by the cows. Automated learning means that Ida’s algorithms are constantly improving the product for its customers.
“What stands out about our product is that our customers love the simplicity of it and that it provides a complete picture of the herd,” said Yasir Khokhar, CEO of Connecterra. “This validates our core thesis that farmers don’t care about data; they care about insights. The sensor is not the center of our universe. We don’t consider ourselves to be a wearable company; we are a farmer assistant product, and we also integrate with farm data. The wearable sensor is just one source for us; our AI capabilities are what our customers like.”
As well as working directly with farmers — from those with 50 cows to those with 10,000 — Connecterra has some larger industry clients including Danone, the French food producer known for its yogurt. Danone is working on improving animal welfare, and farm efficiency as is looking at building applications on top of Connecterra’s platform, according to Khokhar.
Connecterra has several thousands of subscribers to Ida and is currently available in Canada, the US and Western Europe, but Khokhar says he is getting interest from “pretty much every corner of the world including Ecuador, South Africa, and Mongolia.”
“We are incredibly excited by the potential for Connecterra’s technology to be adopted globally, given its potential impacts to the dairy sector in both developed and developing markets,” added AgFunder’s Dean. “Their customer growth and retention are outstanding for technology and applications of this type.”
Connecterra will use the funding to further develop its technology and expand into new markets with investors yielding from Russia, the UK, the US and the Middle East. It will also expand the team; Connecterra is currently hiring for field technicians and account managers in the US and Europe.
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