ApisProtect, an Irish agtech company using the Internet of Things (IoT) to monitor honey bee colonies, today announced the close of a €1.5 million seed round of financing led by top-tier international venture capital investors Finistere Ventures and Atlantic Bridge Capital. Radicle Growth, the Yield Lab and Enterprise Ireland also participated in the investment round.
ApisProtect will use the investment to aggressively accelerate international expansion, opening its first U.S. office at the Western Growers Association’s WG Center for Innovation and Technology in Salinas, California.
“This investment will allow us to accelerate our expansion as we work to create an extensive global hive health database to power our machine learning insights”, noted Dr Fiona Edwards Murphy, CEO and co-founder, ApisProtect. “We look forward to building our team of AI specialists, engineers and scientists over the next 3 years to 25 staff, and helping to reduce honey bee losses worldwide.”
ApisProtect helps commercial beekeepers more effectively manage colonies. Contributing €153 billion worth of pollination to the agri-food industry annually, honey bees play an essential role in global food production. One third of all food that we eat depends on pollinators, and there are 91 million managed beehives worldwide. The aim is to help commercial pollinators and growers to optimize pollination.”
Beekeepers no longer need to rely solely on periodic, manual hive checks that can allow disease, pests and other issues to deteriorate hive health beyond rescue. Now monitoring the health of over six million honey bees in hives across Europe and North America, ApisProtect brings the power of advanced sensors and machine learning technology into the hive to deliver a 24/7 early warning system so beekeepers can give at-risk hives immediate attention and improve bee health.
Atlantic Bridge co-led the seed round with Finistere Ventures, which made its first investment from the Ireland AgTech Fund (a partnership between Finistere Ventures and the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund). Radicle Growth, an AgTech Acceleration Fund, played a key role in the round and is actively supporting ApisProtect’s US expansion efforts.
ApisProtect provides an in-hive sensor network with long-range, cellular and satellite-powered communication to proactively monitor honey bee colonies. Combining the sensor data on hive conditions, health and activity levels with its proprietary big data and machine learning techniques, ApisProtect gives beekeepers actionable insights and alerts to help prevent losses and increase colony productivity.
This investment will allow ApisProtect to rapidly scale – deploying its IoT technology to more climates, bee sub-species and bee foraging areas. Its key focus will be establishing a presence in North America, South Africa and the United Kingdom, as well as growing its team in Ireland.
“With a science-driven, multi-disciplinary leadership team, ApisProtect is primed to fundamentally change the way commercial beekeepers around the globe manage their hives,” added Kieran Furlong of Finistere Ventures. “Our Ireland Agtech Fund is dedicated to investing in early stage agtech companies reshaping the global food and ag industries. ApisProtect was the prime candidate for the fund’s first Irish investment. There is a need for technologies to aid pollination in agriculture, and ApisProtect hive monitor technology has massive potential in key markets like California.”
Alison Crawford at Atlantic Bridge added, “Atlantic Bridge is delighted to welcome ApisProtect to our growing portfolio in the University Fund, a €60 million fund, focused on commercializing cutting edge research from leading institutions. ApisProtect is uniquely placed to disrupt a global, well-established industry with robust technology developed by Fiona Edwards Murphy, following her award winning PhD research at University College Cork, Ireland. Atlantic Bridge has a strong track record of supporting Irish companies through key stages of development and helping them commercialize their technology globally through our network in Europe, the US and China. We believe ApisProtect has the potential to ultimately help commercial pollinators and growers to optimize pollination.”
Welcoming the announcement, Joe Healy, Divisional Manager, HPSU Enterprise Ireland said, “Ireland is fast becoming an international leader in business and a world-class innovator in some of the technology sector’s most exciting and disruptive new fields. One of Enterprise Ireland’s key roles is to develop and support this innovation and we recognise the value of venture capital funding to high potential growth companies in the agritech sector. I would like to congratulate ApisProtect on their success in raising funding and Enterprise Ireland looks forward to working with the team to drive the development and growth of the agritech sector in global markets.”
ApisProtect is an Irish company, located in Cork, Ireland and headed up by Dr Fiona Edwards Murphy, Dr Pádraig Whelan and Andrew Wood, a team with complimentary backgrounds including engineering, scientific, beekeeping and commercial experience.
Dr Edwards Murphy has a PhD in Electrical and Electronic Engineering and a BE from University College Cork in 2013. As a graduate of UCC, Edwards Murphy participated in the Ignite program, an international award-winning business start-up programme that specialises in supporting recent third-level graduates to turn innovative ideas into successful, scalable businesses. She won the Ignite Business of the Year Award in 2016.
Her work has received international recognition, including at least eight academic publications, awards from the Irish Research Council, IBM, The Irish Laboratory Awards, and Google. ApisProtect was partially funded by St. Louis-based agtech accelerator The Yield Lab in 2016.