China’s FJ Dynamics, which builds automation solutions for agriculture and related industries, has raised “hundreds of millions of yuan” ($15 million-plus) in funding, according to a statement posted on its WeChat feed.
The Shenzhen-based startup secured the funding from crosstown tech giant Tencent along with several other undisclosed investors. It said the capital will be used to further develop and commercialize its products and core technologies.
FJ Dynamics is also backed by Shenzhenite drone manufacturer DJI and state-owned automaker Dongfeng Motor. In May, it raised a ‘Series A1’ round worth ¥100 million ($15 million) from the government-linked, Hong Kong-based Greater Bay Area Homeland Development Fund and other investors.
Founded in 2017 by former DJI chief scientist James Wu, FJ Dynamics deploys artificial intelligence and big data analytics to provide robotic and other ‘unmanned’ tech solutions for the agriculture, animal husbandry, fishery, and forestry industries, as well as construction and manufacturing more broadly. Its products include driverless tractors, autonomous heavy goods vehicles, and robot rice transplanters – the latter of which it claims can increase yields by 17%.
Asides from hardware, the startup also offers enterprise software platforms for management of self-driving vehicles and ‘smart agriculture,’ as well as “digital modeling-as-a-service” to create ‘digital twins’ of a customer’s physical assets.
According to FJ Dynamics, this allows it to “precisely rebuild [a] terrain in digital format at the decimeter level [making] it easier and much more affordable to digitalize a farm, a construction site, a port, or a mine.”
While it has focused initially on open-field farming, the startup is also busy applying its tech to other verticals within ag.
In livestock rearing, for example, it recently partnered with Swedish ag equipment company Sveaverken to program ‘smart feeding’ robots that drive back and forth within cowsheds, topping up the animals’ fodder as needed. They’re also able to collect dropped and scattered feed and return it to the cows’ troughs, allowing for more efficient utilization of resources.
“Tencent has always been focused on the development of cutting-edge technology, and opportunities for such technology to improve industrial efficiency,” Chris Yu, executive director of Tencent Investment, said in a WeChat post announcing the funding.
“As part of the general trend towards mechanization and automation in agriculture, forestry, animal husbandry, and fishery, we believe that the FJ Dynamics team’s strong technical capability and clear sense of purpose will help it to drive user value, advanced technological innovation, waste reduction, and improved economics in the [agrifood] industry.”