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The Dendra team sets up one of their tree-planting drones. Photo credit: Dendra

Dendra and its ‘forest-patrolling drones’ close $10m Series A from Airbus, others

September 16, 2020

Dendra Systems, a UK-Australian startup using a variety of technologies to rehabilitate damaged environmental ecosystems and capture carbon, has raised $10 million in funding.

The Series A round was co-led by Airbus Ventures, the VC arm of European aircraft manufacturer Airbus; San Francisco-based At One Ventures; Paris-based Future Positive Capital; and Lowercarbon Capital, a climate-focused fund established by early Uber and Twitter backer — and Shark Tank star — Chris Sacca.

Dendra deploys a combination of artificial intelligence and machine learning tech, data analytics, drones, and ecological expertise to restore biodiverse ecosystems that have been degraded through agricultural, industrial, or other anthropogenic activity.

Using high-resolution data capture and AI that has been drilled in ecological science, the startup maps environmentally degraded parcels of land. It then assesses the data it has collected to tailor restoration plans for each site it has scrutinized.

Where tree-planting for carbon capture is part of the plan, Dendra can call upon its fleet of customized drones to sow 120 seeds per minute – which the company claims is 150 times faster than manual planting.

Once a restoration plan is in action, the startup continues to collect and analyze data from the site it’s working on to make the process more efficient, predict where further work will be needed, and keep track of carbon capture results.

“By now, we have all recognized the urgency of climate change and the impact of global land degradation, from frequent flooding, costly wildfires, deforestation, and the loss of biodiversity devastating ecosystems across the world,” said Susan Graham, Dendra’s co-founder and CEO in a statement. “We need hands across all industries to fight back if we are going to make a dent on climate change, and it starts with restoring our degraded ecosystems and lands.”

Dendra aims to sell its services to the enterprises that often cause of these kinds of environmental degradation. It counts mining majors BHP, Glencore, Rio Tinto, and Yancoal among its clients.

The startup has also been accepted into the UK’s HS2 Innovation Accelerator, under which it will render land rehabilitation services along the route of the country’s under-construction HS2 high-speed rail route.

A source close to the startup told AFN that its headquarters are in Oxford, UK, but most of its current operations and client projects are in Australia.

Other investors in the Series A round include Lionheart VC, SYSTEMIQ, and Venture Souq. Dendra graduated from the 2018 cohort of Australian agrifoodtech accelerator Sparklabs Cultiv8.

Lowercarbon Capital partner Clay Dumas said that “Dendra’s forest-patrolling drones are one of the most promising technologies for sucking carbon out of the atmosphere.”

“Whether you’re a regulated industry that has to restore mines, or conservationists reviving some of the planet’s most critical ecosystems, Dendra’s platform provides the highest fidelity ecological data out there to speed up reforestation,” he added.

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