Drone-enabled aerial data and safety platform provider PrecisionHawk has raised a $75 million Series D round from a laundry list of major tech and agriculture players.
The North Carolina-based startup is one of the few agtech investments for Dupont Pioneer, which has been slower to enter the venture game than its peers Monsanto Growth Ventures and Syngenta Ventures and Bayer Crops, even despite the prominent acquisition of farm management software platform Granular in August.
Industry experts tell AgFunderNews that with the shadow of pending M&As lifting, 2018 will be a more active year for all three of these strategic players.
“Syngenta has been a PrecisionHawk customer since 2015 and has experienced first-hand the impact of the technology platform; both augmenting and replacing a variety of manual processes for more efficient and scalable operations,” said Katrin Burt, Managing Director of Syngenta Ventures. Dupont as well has been a customer of PrecisionHawk for many years.
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Precision Hawk offers a fully autonomous drone performing low altitude aerial data collection and subsequent data management and analysis. The company offers an end-to-end aerial data platform, that supports both multi-rotor and fixed-wing drones, and offers a suite of algorithms to produce analytical products, such as volume measurement, canopy cover, and field uniformity.
PrecisionHawk’s Series B round in 2016 was the first ever agriculture investment for Verizon Ventures, who has joined this round as well. Before this round, PrecisionHawk had raised $29 million in three rounds, the most recent of which was an $18 million Series C round in 2016.
Funding for drone technology companies that identify agriculture as an industry of focus dropped by 64% from 2015 to 2016, which has caused some doubt in their growth potential for agriculture — though outlooks are bullish for drones in enterprise fields like construction and oil and gas.
But as multispectral and hyperspectral cameras improve and drop in size and price, and as providers incorporate more autonomous capabilities, the technology may be in for a rally. (Stay tuned for our 2017 AgriFood Tech Investing Report next month!)
“Drones are not only replacing old information with more precise information. They are providing an entirely new layer that was previously unattainable or economically prohibitive to collect. With advanced sensors such as LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) and the analytics to interpret their outputs, organizations are gaining unprecedented visibility into their work. Ultimately, making them more profitable and sustainable,” said Michael Chasen, PrecisionHawk CEO.