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Why Bosch Invested in an Aussie Agtech Sensor Company

May 6, 2016

Last week, AgFunderNews spoke with CEO and co-founder of The Yield regarding its recent $2.5 million funding round led by global technology and services provider Bosch Group. This investment continues a trend for investment into the agtech sector by large, technology corporates; last week Yamaha and Verizon invested in drone company PrecisionHawk through their venturing arms.

The Yield is a sensor and IoT platform for the aquaculture and agriculture sector. In January, the company released its first product for the oyster industry, offering an environmental data service to help track and control Pacific Oysters Mortality Syndrome, a disease that poses a serious threat to the industry.

We recently had a chance to chat with Gavin Smith, regional president with responsibility for Oceania at Bosch. Smith says that the Bosch team met The Yield’s founder, Ros Harvey, after an introduction from Dr. Mike Briers, the founder of the Knowledge Economy Institute in Australia.

“We recognized that they may fit into our strategic intent—to bring innovations that improve the lives of individuals, communities, and improving environmental outcomes,” says Smith. When it comes to looking for their next big investment, it sounds like the team at Bosch always has their eyes peeled.

“We are constantly scouting for and evaluating interesting businesses to partner with or acquire, however, The Yield was our first in the ‘Intelligent Agriculture’ space.”

Why did you invest in The Yield?

The world’s population is expected to exceed 9.3 billion and as this happens, productivity and efficiency in agriculture will become increasingly important. A global leader in innovation, Bosch sees the potential for technology to play an increasingly important role in improving productivity, increasing yield and reducing risk in Agriculture. We see a good fit between the market needs and Bosch’s strategic intent — to bring innovations that improve the lives of individuals, communities, and improving environmental outcomes. Our investment in The Yield reflects our confidence in The Yield’s business model, its ability to quickly execute in the emerging field of microclimate sensing and intelligent agriculture.

What’s the purpose of your investment?

To build a global business by combining Bosch’s innovation power and global reach with The Yield’s agriculture know-how and capability to design solutions that solve complex problems in agriculture. Compared to other agtech startups, The Yield Lab fits so well because they have a full IoT solution that is derived from direct engagement in the market. They have asked customers what they want and the result is attractive to us. From sensor development to data harvesting, to user interface—the whole value chain has been researched and a technology roadmap put in place.

Are you looking to invest in any others, and, if so, what is your investment thesis around agriculture and technology? What about companies outside Australia?

We intend to make further investments where there is a good match between business model and Bosch’s capability and strategic intent. Bosch has already developed some solutions in agtech, we’ve announced agriculture robots previously and our venture capital arm recently invested in another company – CropX. The Yield was the first in IoT intelligent agriculture, however, we are always looking evaluating interesting businesses. That is a strength of Bosch, we are highly diversified and continually look for innovative or disruptive solutions that we can help bring to market.

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