VANCOUVER, Canada/WESTERLO, Belgium: Biobest, a global leader in biocontrol and pollination and ecoation, a pioneer in robotics and artificial intelligence technologies for horticulture today announced stepping-up their initial commercial collaboration. Biobest invests $ 10 million in ecoation. Biobest’s CEO, Jean-Marc Vandoorne, and COO, Karel Bolckmans, join ecoation’s board of directors. Furthermore, the parties join forces to develop new IPM related technologies and go global with their commercial alliance.
The Biobest investment follows on the heels of $10M in public funding from the Canadian government and an earlier infusion of $2.5M from existing investors through a round led by Pallasite Ventures. This infusion of $22.5 M CAD will support a successful commercial roll-out of ecoation’s cutting-edge dynamic data harvesting platform based on a combination of deep biology, computer vision, sensor technology, AI, and robotics.
Jean-Marc Vandoorne, Biobest CEO says, “We have been impressed not only by ecoation’s technology leadership but also by their deep connection with leading growers. Their capacity to deploy a broad array of new technologies to deliver practical and economical solutions for the world’s most ambitious greenhouse growers is truly outstanding. Saber and his team are deeply committed to make a contribution to sustainability in horticulture and realize the immense potential for further data-driven advances in biological control and integrated pest management. Together we have all it takes to be the best-in-class in IPM in the upcoming era of data-driven greenhouse crop production. Our teams are excited about these joint developments and committed to show growers the path from Artificial Intelligence to Additional Income.”
“We started interacting with Biobest three years ago and today is the beginning of a substantial new chapter in our collaboration,” says Dr. Saber Miresmailli, founder and CEO of ecoation. “Besides our shared vision for the future of agriculture, we also share the same values. We are passionate about sustainability and have a relentless drive to provide world class service to our customers. We nurture our colleagues to grow and to use their talent to make the world a better place. We believe in collaboration and have the humility to constantly and continuously improve our offerings. This shared vision is a strong foundation for success and Biobest’s worldwide network will help us make a difference on a global scale.”
Traditionally, a greenhouse environment is controlled by means of spot-measurements of a number of parameters. IPM related information is traditionally recorded by technical “scouting” staff walking the greenhouse and taking notes.
The ecoation human + machine technology platform takes all this to a different level: the robots and sensors deliver an incredibly fine-mazed data-matrix with unrivalled detail in time and space. Sensors allow us to pick up early signs of stress and disease in plants and interpret these signs before they are even noticed by a human scout.
Karel Bolckmans, Biobest COO, explains how this delivers value to growers in three important ways: “Firstly, using biological control to its maximum potential requires that we get the best and earliest possible understanding of what’s going on in terms of pest and disease pressure. This is exactly what the ecoation platform will provide. Secondly, we will translate this superior knowledge into even better advice with regard to biocontrol intervention actions. That’s where our technology collaboration will leverage the knowledge of Biobest’s technical experts to make it more widely and more easily accessible, even in situations where our experts may not be able to make frequent on-site visits. Thirdly, the range of functionalities of the ecoation platform goes well beyond IPM and includes other value-added items like yield prediction, high-resolution climate optimization, quality control of produce and greenhouse labor. Our global network of technical advisors with regular grower interactions will help ecoation stand by growers to provide regular personal advice and direct support for the full range of functionalities.”
Miresmailli concludes: “At a pivotal moment for ecoation and for growers faced with labor shortages, regulatory pressures and the need to find ever-better ways to protect their crops, the partnership with Biobest now enables to scale-up a game-changing approach to how we produce and protect our food.”