Without a doubt, the biggest challenge the majority of farmers face the world over is the weather. Forever unpredictable, it’s now more erratic than ever as global warming creates more extreme weather events such as severe flooding, drought, storms. And with the World Meteorological Organization predicting a 90% likelihood that a year between 2021 and 2025 will be the hottest on record, it’s only going to get worse.
This could cause significant disruption to farming and the world’s food supply.
But what if farmers, their advisors and their supply chains, could predict the weather; would that help?
ClimateAi, a predictive weather analytics startup out of San Francisco, says it can and it just raised $12 million in Series A funding to do so.
The startup raised the funding in a round led by AI-focused Radical Ventures with participation from Robert Downey Jnr’s new venture fund FootPrint Coalition. Other investors in the round included Finistere Ventures, Neotribe, AMECloud and ThirdStream Partners, bringing ClimateAi’s total funding to date to $16 million.
Alongside the funding announcement, ClimateAi revealed a new tool for enterprise clients across the supply chain to minimize their climate risk exposure with “properly forecast[ed] extreme weather more than two weeks in advance.” Using machine learning to make predictions based on a wealth of data points, the startup says this will enable its clients — which range from processors and packers to seed and chemicals inputs companies and agriculture finance to retailers and farmers’ advisors — to better plan for the changing climate. This could include identifying new locations for climate-smart expansions for specific crops and ingredients, better managing inventory to avoid shortages, and forecasting pressures from certain pests or diseases.
“We’ve reached an inflection point on climate adaptation, and there’s a growing sense of urgency around preparing supply chains to quickly adapt to the impact of climate change. The pandemic – timed with the hottest year to date – put the focus squarely on the vulnerabilities of our food system infrastructure and supply chains,” said Himanshu Gupta, CEO of ClimateAi. “ClimateAi is already helping major players across the agrifood supply chain better understand, manage and communicate climate risk to improve transparency and increase profitability. Our platform aims to accelerate the transition to climate adaptation across supply chains – similar to what Fairtrade did to responsible sourcing. In the future, we plan to launch the world’s first climate resilience rating scheme for supply chains based on the data gathered by our platform and the trust we have built with our customers and partners.”
ClimateAi’s approach isn’t anything new; the UK’s Cervest offers a similar product, aWhere has been offering predictive weather analytics for years, and Gro Intelligence is also using AI to make predictions related to climate, most recently creating a set of climate indices. But for Footprint Coalition managing partner Jonathan Schulhof, the team is what really sets ClimateAi apart from the rest.
“The dynamism of the team was a big draw,” he told AFN. “Himanshu is a killer” and his experience working in Indian politics as well as the team’s overall prowess in IT engineering, “caught my eye quickly.” He was also impressed with “the importance of what they’re doing and the scale of the market opportunity, which really can’t be overestimated.”
“ClimateAi has a broad client base. As we see the world unfolding more and becoming more interconnected, more and more people are looking for insights and ClimateAi could easily go down the value chain further into retail clients keen to understand the impact on their sourcing,” Schulhof added.
Footprint, which has already invested in other agrifoodtech companies such as mealworm farm Ynsect, operates rolling funds in collaboration with AngelList that accredited investors can access every quarter.
ClimateAi aims to be deployed across half a billion acres of farmlands around the globe within the next three years and to expand its platform to support solutions across other industry supply chains with the funding.