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Fundings-in-Brief: 2 AI Startups, 3 US Food E-Commerce Deals, 1 Cannabis Funding, 1 Seed Genetics Play, plus more!

July 28, 2016

Israeli Computer Vision Startup Prospera Closes $7m Series A

Prospera, an Israeli startup using computer vision, data science, and machine learning to monitor and analyze crops, has raised $7 million in Series A funding in a round led by local VC Bessemer Venture Partners. Prospera will use the funding to launch its software-as-a-service in the US where it will also expand its focus on indoor agriculture to high-value permanent crops and produce grown outdoors. The Tel Aviv-based startup is taking a novel approach to monitoring crops with a camera and sensor hardware system, which currently captures half a million readings every day. To learn more about the funding and how computer vision may shape agriculture, read our recent interview with company CEO David Koppel.

Cannabis Grow System Leaf Raises $2m Seed Round from Techstars MD

Tel Aviv-based Leaf, which offers a plug n’ plant cannabis plant growing apparatus appropriate for users of all experience levels, has closed a $2 million seed round with cannabis-focused Florida investment firm Phyto Partners, cannabis crop input providers Advanced Nutrients, Techstars’ Atlanta managing director, Canna Holdings founder Michael Cohn, Gregg Weiss, and smartphone breathalyzer co-developer Ben Biron. The device’s goal is to allow cannabis patients to “grow their medicine automatically” while using the precise temperature-controlled and humidity-controlled apparatus that comes with automatic nutrient dosing. A step-by-step instructional video, optional automatic water changes, and odor-reducing carbon filters are added bonuses for the apparatus.

California Seed Genetics Company Sostena Raises $8.1m

Providing hybrid fruit and vegetable seeds to growers around the globe, Davis, CA-based Sostena has raised an $8.1 million venture round with an undisclosed group of investors. The Davis region has become a recent hot spot for agtech innovation, primarily due to UC Davis’ status as one of the top agriculture research institutions in the world. According to the company, creating more value in the food supply chain will be essential to overcoming limited resources like arable land and water. The company is primarily focused on helping farmers do more with fewer inputs.

Good Eggs Raises Surprise $15m for Expansion

It’s round-two for Good Eggs, the Californian grocery delivery service that just last year had to shut operations outside of the San Francisco area after expanding too quickly. The company is on the war path again and has raised another $15 million to fund its next steps. The funding came from some existing investors, but not all, and some new names including S2G Ventures and Obvious Ventures. The company is now run by Bentley Hall, after founder and previous CEO Rob Spiro stepped down to become and adviser for the business. Find out more over on TechCrunch.

Meal Kit Delivery Service Sun Basket Closes $15m Series B

A lengthy list of investors have participated in meal kit delivery service Sun Basket’s recent $15 million Series B led by venture capital and growth equity fund of funds Accolade Partners, seed and growth-stage investor Baseline Ventures, Filter14, multi-sector early-stage investor Relevance Capital, Tim Connors’ Palo Alto-based PivotNorth Capital, Paul Allen’s billion dollar investment arm Vulcan Capital, multi-stage e-commerce investor Shea Ventures, founder liquidity specialist Founders Circle Capital. Based in San Francisco, the company offers organic meal kits featuring weekly menus to customers. This round brings the company’s total funding to over $31 million.

Grocery Delivery Service Shipt Closes $20m Series A

Birmingham, Alabama-based Shipt has raised $20.1 million in a Series A round with early-stage internet and mobile investors Greycroft Partners, Southeastern and Mid-Atlantic U.S emerging growth stage company investors Herbert Growth Partners, and France-based The online delivery service provides customers with thousands of supermarket items and offers an online method for creating grocery lists and making purchases. The company taps so-called “trained shoppers” to collect the items and deliver them to the customer. This deal has particular significance for the southern state, constituting the largest venture capital investment for Alabama in 2016 so far.

AI for Sustainable Agriculture Startup Erango Closes Seed Round

Indonesian startup Erango, which offers AI technology to promote sustainable agriculture, has closed a seed stage round with global multi-sector investor East Ventures. According to the company, roughly 15 percent of citizens in Indonesia are engaged in small-scale farming. The company’s end-to-end platform and mobile app allow farmers to get better information about farming, microloans, equipment, and even offers access to forums where they sell their produce to restaurants and other vendors. Erango claims that it already has 38 farmers in the island nation working on its platform.

Electro-Magnetic Field Seed Stimulators UpGrain Close $25k Seed Round

Using low-frequency electro-magnetic field stimulation of seeds to boost yields by up to 20 percent, UpGrain has raised $25,000 from Velocity Fund, which provides next generation startups with $125,000 in seed money through its competitions and events. The company taps mathematical algorithms to determine the optimal time to apply the electro-magnetic treatments for maximum benefits.

Brazilian Big Data Analytics Company SciCrop Raises $200k Seed Round

Based in Sao Paulo and providing farmers with prescriptive agriculture applications, SciCrop has raised $200k in seed investment with undisclosed investors. The platform offers farmers a variety of benefits, including computational algorithms to provide enhanced informational readings and autonomous lab stations to conduct research and data analysis. The startup is founded on four pillars: research, economics, big data, and IoT. It offers different packages of services priced according to service level, while also offering a free app for farmers.

Delhi-based Produce Provider Lemon Leaf Closes $133k Angel Round

Focused on providing high quality and hygienic fruits and vegetables to Delhi residents, Lemon Leaf recently raised $133k from a group of angel investors. It provides both whole and pre-cut products and focuses on maximizing the shelf life of these perishable goods. The funding will be used to help the company establish a processing facility at Dwarka in southwest Delhi with the capacity to process 50,000 kilograms of produce per day. The angel investors behind the round are supermarket chain Daily Delite founders Tushar Gupta and Sourav Sahani.

Icelandic Arctic Char Producer Matorka Raises $2.5m led by Aqua-Spark

Pure-play, sustainable aquaculture investment firm, Aqua-Spark, has led the most recent funding round for Icelandic Arctic char producer, Matorka, investing $2.5 million of the $5.5 million round. The rest of the round has been funded by “various international and local investors,” Matorka CEO Árni Páll Einarsson told Fish Farming Expert. A member of the salmon family, Arctic char is gaining more notice as a sustainable species that can serve an undersupplied market and has been awarded the “Best Choice” species for consumption by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch. This investment is the first for Aqua-Spark in 2016. Since its launch in December 2013, Aqua-Spark has pursued minority investments in small-to-medium enterprises that demonstrate the potential to generate significant returns, while also being environmentally and socially sustainable. To date, the company has $19.25 million under management toward its goal of $400 million by 2025.

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