EarthSense Raises Funding to Commercialize TerraSentia Field Phenotyping Platform

EarthSense - a startup creating cutting edge robotics and machine-learning technologies to revolutionize agriculture - has closed a $1M funding round. The SAFE round was led by Innova Memphis with participation by Illinois Ventures, Fox Ventures, The Syndicate Fund, and a group of experienced enterprise IT executives.

EarthSense has created the TerraSentia robotics and AI platform to help crop breeders create new high yielding crops which require less water, chemicals, and other inputs; even in unfavorable climate conditions. “Robotic phenotyping has considerable promise for accelerating crop breeding, but has been hindered for most by very high costs. TerraSentia has the potential to provide robotic phenotyping at a fraction of the cost of most current systems. Its portability also makes it potentially a system that could be used almost anywhere.” said Prof. Stephen P. Long, widely acclaimed crop scientist at the University of Illinois, Fellow of the Royal Society, and a Member of the National Academy of Sciences.

“TerraSentia is designed to quantify a large variety of plant traits that are essential for crop-improvement but are only accessible from underneath the crop canopy.” said Girish Chowdhary, co-founder and CTO of EarthSense and Professor of Agricultural Engineering and Computer Science at UIUC. “Our unique technology stack enables autonomy and machine learning in harsh, uncertain, and dynamic agricultural environments”.

EarthSense has been incubated at the globally renowned EnterpriseWorks Incubator in Urbana-Champaign, IL and has leveraged mentoring and networking opportunities of the AgLaunch 365 Accelerator (Memphis), Rabo Bank backed TERRA Accelerator (San Francisco), and the Creative Destruction Lab (Toronto). Some of the core technologies powering the TerraSentia platform were developed at the University of Illinois with funding from ARPA-e, NSF, USDA, and the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation.

“TerraSentia’s technology has the potential to collect unprecedented plant trait datasets from agricultural fields, including our research plots.” said Dr Carl Bernacchi, USDA Agricultural Research Service scientist with the Global Change and Photosynthesis Research Unit. “This technology is unlocking a new era in creating sustainable and highly productive crops.”

“The lack of a practical technology for getting reliable, actionable data from agricultural fields has been a major hurdle to improving agricultural productivity and resiliency.” said Dr. Chinmay Soman, co-founder and CEO of EarthSense. “Over the past two years, customers throughout the agricultural value chain have validated the TerraSentia technology. This funding round will help us hire key technical talent to mature the TerraSentia platform and expand beyond the agricultural R&D market.”

In addition to maturing the HTP platform for crop breeding, EarthSense is now expanding its product portfolio beyond phenotyping and agricultural R&D market to serve large-scale commodity and specialty crop production - for monitoring, advisory, and management of key problems.

“EarthSense has shown amazing product and business growth over the past two years - built on a solid understanding of customers’ needs - and has captured non-dilutive funding to propel R&D.” said Dean Didato, Partner at Innova Memphis - the lead investor of the funding round. “Customer response to TerraSentia has been beyond our expectations for a company at this stage. We believe that the unique set of technologies that this team has created, and their demonstrated dedication to solving customers’ critical bottlenecks is driving EarthSense to become a highly impactful player not just in AgTech, but also other industries.”

About EarthSense: EarthSense was founded in 2016 with a mission of creating sustainable abundance through intelligent machines. EarthSense’s team of robotics, machine learning, and agricultural experts are creating world-leading technologies for agriculture and other challenging applications. Headquartered in Illinois - the heart of the US agricultural belt - EarthSense has attracted a strong interest all through the agricultural value chain and all around the world. EarthSense currently has customers in the US, South America, and Australia. Please contact hello@earthsense.co for more information.

About Innova Memphis: Founded in 2007 by the Memphis Bioworks Foundation, Innova is a pre-seed, seed and early-stage venture capital group focused on starting and funding high-growth companies in the Biosciences, Technology and AgTech fields. Innova Memphis provides the synergy of experienced management, market expertise and venture capital to accelerate the development of new products and services into thriving businesses. Innova’s unique history combined with the industry experience and investment expertise of their investment team allows the firm to execute its funding strategy of finding, funding and growing early-stage, high-growth companies to achieve significant investment returns. For additional information please visit www.innovamemphis.com or email info@innovamemphis.com