- Swiss-Italian agtech startup xFarm Technologies has raised €17 million ($17.4 million) in Series B financing to add new features to and expand the availability of its farm management information system.
- Zürich-based Swisscom Ventures led the round with participation from Neva SGR (Intesa Sanpaolo Group), Emerald Technology Ventures, NovaCapital, and Grey Silo Ventures.
- Existing investor United Ventures, which xFarm’s Series A round in 2019, also participated.
Founded in 2017, xFarm Technologies offers farmers and other ag businesses a mobile platform that, via in-field sensors, collects and analyzes data from all over the farm, providing information on pests, weed growth, irrigation needs, and financial matters, to name just a few.
- xFarm merged with Italian digital ag company Farm Technologies in 2021 to create xFarm Technologies. The merger brought additional capabilities and management areas to the xFarm platform.
- Currently, the software platform supports 110,000 farms belonging to over 30 agrifood chains and covering 1.5 million hectares in roughly 100 countries.
- xFarm is available as a “freemium” subscription to growers and other ag businesses just wanting to try it out before graduating to a paid premium service.
Why it matters:
The agriculture sector has historically been slow to adopt new technologies: events from the last year or so are changing that.
Besides battling the impacts of climate change that include extreme heatwaves and droughts, farmers also grapple with soaring input costs, disrupted supply chains, and labor shortages. The World Bank predicts we’ll need to produce about 60% more food to accommodate a global population that will reach almost 10 billion people by 2050. That’ll be no small feat for farmers, considering the above issues.
Throw in the expectation to farm more sustainably while storing and capturing carbon, and there’s little room for guesswork when it comes to managing farm operations and yields. Technologies like xFarm can potentially aid farmers in making decisions about when to water crops, how much fertilizer to use, where pests are a threat, and myriad other areas. The fact that at least some of the xFarm platform’s features are free, thanks to the company’s “freemium” model, may make digitization a greater reality for more farmers.
xFarm Technologies’ CEO Matteo Vanotti summed it up best last year when he told AFN, “To produce more efficiently [and] be sustainable is a double challenge, so bringing some support from technology is a must.”
Speaking in a statement on the Series B round, Vanotti, who grew up on his family’s farm in Italy, added that xFarm Technologies’ platform can “manage the complex needs of farmers, machinery manufacturers and all the stakeholders in
the supply chain through digitalization.”
“Digital platforms combined with the internet of things are fundamentally altering farming,” Alexander Schlaepfer, a partner at Swisscom Ventures, said in a statement. “The next wave of adoption is creating the foundation for producing more sustainably while coping with the challenges of climate change.
Schlaepfer now joins the board of xFarm Technologies.
How xFarm will spend the funding:
The new capital will go towards improving and expanding platform features, particularly those that can assist farmers with sustainability measures on the farm and adapting to the ongoing impacts of climate change:
- AI will be used to develop new technologies to support farmers in the in-field activities.
- Other features will address working with other supply chains, such as those in livestock management.
- Decision support systems able to sift through large amounts of farm data will assist with managing inputs like water, fertilizers, and crop protection products and technologies.
- The company will also expand internationally, first in Europe and then in the Americas.
- To achieve all of this, xFarm will also grow its team from 60 to 80 employees by the end of 2022.