iUNU
IUNU's LUNA system. Image credit: iUNU

Indoor agtech startup iUNU acquires pest advisory firm CropWalk

August 10, 2021

IUNU (pronounced ‘you knew’), a Seattle-based startup building computer vision systems for greenhouses, has acquired integrated pest management (IPM) consultancy CropWalk for an undisclosed sum.

Founded in 2013, iUNU has developed a system called LUNA which combines software with a variety of cameras — both fixed and mobile — and environmental sensors to keep track of the minutiae of plant growth and health in indoor ag settings. LUNA is able to compile and analyze all of the data it collects through this hardware, and then uses artificial intelligence to create growth models for individual plants. As LUNA carries out more imaging, it becomes faster and more precise in its modeling.

LUNA analyzed close to 1 billion square feet of greenhouse space in 2019, according to iUNU.

The acquisition of an advisory business marks something of a departure from iUNU’s tech-heavy background – but would seem to make a lot of sense for both parties.

Launched in 2019, US-based CropWalk provides IPM consulting services with a focus on the horticulture industry. It helps growers to assess pest and pathogen risk in their operations, before working with them to develop and implement an ‘integrated’ management program which aims to control, rather than eradicate, pests in a sustainable manner using a range of tools.

As part of its offering, CropWalk also provides remote monitoring services. In a statement announcing the acquisition, iUNU said the “capacity of [CropWalk’s remote monitoring capabilities] are now dramatically enhanced by [LUNA].”

“Rising consumer demand is accelerating the growth of the greenhouse industry, but the massive shortage of both growers and manual labor requires a scalable machine vision solution […] Something has to give, thus the future is centralized management of distributed facilities,” said Adam Greenberg, CEO of iUNU.

“Having a renowned agronomy team [in CropWalk] to assist in deploying state-of-the-art technology like LUNA will have a profound impact on our constantly improving capacity to help growers increase quality, yields, and profits.”

CropWalk CEO Charlie McKenzie said that his company has “always used remote monitoring technology to identify and mitigate conditions that foster plant pathogens.”

“Working with the iUNU team and using LUNA, we can digitally walk a crop from anywhere at any time allowing our team to effectively prevent problems before they result in economic injury,” he added.

“Our clients want us around more often; with LUNA, we can be there all the time.”

In its most recent fundraise in December last year, iUNU bagged $7 million in Series A funding from investors including S2G Ventures and Ceres Partners. This followed  a $7.5 million round in February 2019.

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