Aker Secures Funding from Institutional Investors to Advance its TrueCause™ Technology

St. Louis, MO (August 27, 2019) – Today, Aker Technologies announced it has secured an investment of $2.6 million in new equity financing. The funding will be used to advance its TrueCause™ technology, an autonomous crop-scouting platform. TrueCause™ and the Aker Pest Network™ provide growers, suppliers, and ag retailers with under-the-canopy disease and pest crop diagnostics to measure the effectiveness of inputs and drive efficient in-season crop management practices.

The financing was led by Lewis & Clark Ventures, with co-investors Flyover Capital and Central Illinois Angels.

“We are delighted to welcome investors who recognize the innovation gap in an increasingly variable climate environment and the potential of our technology across the industry,” said Orlando Saez, Co-Founder & CEO of Aker Technologies. “Our team is excited to have a close relationship with the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center to accelerate evidence-based field monitoring practices, along with new input and trait development.”

Efficient management of inputs and water to boost crop yield on existing acreage is the foremost challenge in sustainable production agriculture.

“We have seen a lot of startups building crop observation via remote sensing technologies and predictive crop models, but nothing as innovative as Aker’s technology to automate the process of crop scouting under the canopy,” said Lewis & Clark Ventures Principal Larry Page, PhD. “We were particularly impressed with Aker’s early traction with some large agriculture brands, which indicates that they are addressing a real need for growers and retailers.”

“What Aker has accomplished is unlike anything we’ve seen in the AgTech industry,” said Flyover Capital General Partner, Keith Molzer. “We are excited to partner with Aker and Lewis & Clark and see Aker as a great example of the opportunities that early-stage technology companies are creating in Flyover Country.”

Aker Technologies was founded in 2016 with a vision to enable practical tools for growers to improve input cost and efficiency. Aker operates a nationwide crop diagnostic and logistics infrastructure supporting ag retailers and suppliers with validation of crop protection inputs, seed development, and better recommendations with higher ROI for threats impacting yield.

As part of this investment, Aker moved its primary offices to St. Louis to grow the team, work more closely with large agriculture accounts, and continue its research and development efforts with a recently awarded research grant the from Wells Fargo Innovation Incubator (IN2) in collaboration with the Danforth Plant Science Center and co-administered by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

About Aker Technologies Inc.

Aker helps growers drive higher crop yields to maximize profitable and sustainable in-season decisions. Aker advances crop diagnostics with patented technology that automates the process of “crop scouting” by detecting disease, pests, crop damage and other environmental stresses UNDER the crop canopy, at scale. Aker offers county and local, pest and pathogen alert data and map services through subscription and in-field crop scouting services on demand. All data is real observed geo-referenced data, not inferred or approximated by current crop models or predictive analytics alone. For more information, visit www.aker.ag.

Danforth Center Features Aker

There are approximately 900 1 million acres of farmland in the US and less than two percent2 of the population directly works on farms. To ensure profitability, farmers and agronomists need to regularly scout their fields to ensure their crops are not being damaged by pests and diseases. This process takes countless hours and comes with a large margin of error.

It’s clear that there is a huge need for automating and digitizing the process for scouting and monitoring crops. Orlando Saez, CEO and co-founder of Aker, has a vision for a new technology that can help farmers get information about pests and diseases quickly and accurately. 

Entire story here…

Aker Named to Wells Fargo Innovation Incubator’s Agtech Program

One of only five agtech companies selected for the IN2 program, Aker will receive up to $250,000 in technical support from the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center

 

St., Louis, MO (May 14, 2019) — The Wells Fargo Innovation Incubator (IN2), a technology incubator and platform funded by the Wells Fargo Foundation and co-administered by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), today announced that Aker Technologies Inc. has been selected as one of five companies nationally to participate in the incubator’s first agtech cohort — the program’s fifth cohort overall. Aker Technologies Inc., a Midwest company advancing crop diagnostics, was selected for its innovations in developing technologies that help produce food more sustainably.

In selecting Aker for the inaugural agtech cohort, IN2’s goal is to advance technologies that can reduce agriculture’s carbon, energy and water impact, which collectively account for as much as 70 percent of water and 14 percent of energy usage worldwide. As a benefit of participation in the program, Aker will receive up to $250,000 in non-dilutive funding to test, validate and advance its technologies with experts at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center (Danforth Center), the world’s largest independent plant science institute.

“At Aker, we have a strong engineering and software background to enable technology that collects in-season, in-field information at the earliest manifestation of crop stress on a large scale. Our mission is to efficiently serve grower needs,” said Orlando Saez, CEO and co-founder of Aker. “Working with the Danforth Center is a great honor. Their intellectual capital and facilities will greatly accelerate the validation and agronomic impact of our technology for improved crop management outcomes and improve the environmental impact of farming.”

Launched in 2014 with an initial focus on supporting scalable solutions to improve energy efficiency in commercial buildings, IN2 expanded its focus in 2018 to advance innovations in agtech, or the application of software and hardware technology to farming. In launching this first agriculture cohort, IN2 seeks to help the agricultural sector overcome the substantial challenges, barriers and costs of implementing new technologies and to speed their paths to market.

“Wells Fargo is excited to be supporting and nurturing innovations that will ultimately lead to more sustainable and productive agriculture,” said Ramsay Huntley, Clean Technology and Innovation Philanthropy program officer for Wells Fargo. “As one of the largest lenders to the agriculture and agricultural technology sectors, Wells Fargo will bring its expertise to the table in de-risking these early-stage startups and help move them to the next level.”

“The companies involved with IN2 might be small, but they’re solving big problems,” said Trish Cozart, IN2 program manager at NREL. “Aker was an extremely strong applicant, and we cannot wait to see the strides they make by being a part of our program.”

“The Danforth Center has been a driver in the growth of agriculture innovation for 20 years,” said Claire Kinlaw, director of Innovation Commercialization at the Danforth Center. “We look forward to leveraging the IN2 model and working with these early-stage companies to accelerate their technologies to commercialization.”

For a complete list of IN2 portfolio companies, visit in2ecosystem.com.

 

About Aker Technologies Inc.

Aker helps growers drive higher crop yields to maximize profitable and sustainable in-season decisions. Aker advances crop diagnostics with patented technology that automates the process of “crop scouting” by detecting disease, pests, crop damage and other environmental stresses UNDER the crop canopy, at scale. Aker offers county and local, pest and pathogen alert data and map services through subscription and in-field crop scouting services on demand.  All data is real observed geo-referenced data, not inferred or approximated by current crop models. For more information, visit www.aker.ag.

 

About the Wells Fargo Innovation Incubator

The Wells Fargo Innovation Incubator (IN2) is a $30 million technology incubator and platform funded by the Wells Fargo Foundation. Co-administered by and housed at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden, Colorado, IN2’s mission is to speed the path to market for early-stage, clean-technology entrepreneurs. Launched in 2014 with an initial focus on supporting scalable solutions to reduce the energy impact of commercial buildings, IN2 expanded its focus in 2018 to advance technologies that address the interconnection of food, energy, and water. Companies selected for participation in the program receive up to $250,000 in non-dilutive funding, technical support, and validation from experts at NREL and the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center and ongoing connections to organizations across value chains. For more information, visit in2ecosystem.com.

 

About the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center

Founded in 1998, the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center is a nonprofit research institute with a mission to improve the human condition through plant science. Research, education, and outreach aim to have an impact at the nexus of food security and the environment and position the St. Louis region as a world center for plant science. The Center’s work is funded through competitive grants from many sources, including the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Energy, National Science Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and through the support of individuals and corporations. For more information please visit, www.danforthcenter.org

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Coming Soon to a Farm Near You–Digital Crop Scouting

Farmers can get a bird’s eye view of what’s going on under the crop canopy with a new hand-held digital probe, field-tested in North Dakota and field-proofed in Minnesota. You can read more about this story in the NewGround article posted here…

Aker Partners with Sinclair College Partners to Advance the use of UAS Technology for Crop Management

 

Dayton, OH – Sinclair College’s National UAS Training and Certification Center along with Aker, a nationally recognized industry leader in providing in-season crop protection data for farm operations, have created a new partnership to leverage unmanned aerial systems (UAS) technology to monitor crops for disease, insects, and other stresses.

“The Agriculture sector is the number one industry in the Midwest region, “said Jeffrey A. Miller, Chief Operating Officer, Unmanned Aerial Systems at Sinclair College. “ We are excited to collaborate with a nationally recognized company like Aker to provide flight support and data analytics, accelerating their expansion in the Midwest region while giving our students the opportunity for additional real-world experience in this important market segment.”

“The advancement of UAS technology, coupled with regulatory developments, have been critical enabling factors for us to showcase the true value of the timely application of UAS based remote sensing and data analysis in support of the agricultural industry,” said Orlando Saez, co-founder, and CEO of Aker. “Sinclair is an excellent partner for Aker because they remain at the cutting-edge of UAS technology with the tools and technical capabilities necessary to help advance our capabilities while serving our clients around the Midwest region.”

Sinclair will leverage its UAS, sensors, ground support equipment, and expert flight crews to enable rapid expansion of Aker services in Ohio and the broader Midwest while enabling students to gain invaluable real-world experience in support of precision agriculture missions.

Sinclair College’s National UAS Training and Certification Center sits at the forefront of UAS innovation, creating partnerships, developing leading curriculum, and investing significantly to establish a nationally prominent program dedicated to meeting the workforce needs of the growing UAS industry. Sinclair’s UAS program supports applied research and development, consulting, and training leveraging leading expertise and advanced unmanned and manned simulation, indoor flight facilities, aircraft, sensors, avionics, maintenance labs, additive and traditional manufacturing labs, data analytics software, and a wind tunnel lab. For more information, visit uas.sinclair.edu.

Aker serves an international client base advancing crop diagnostics with practical technology tools and services to improve the profitability and sustainability of every farm operation. Aker services have become the backbone of many precision farming teams serving as the in-season customer service platform for chemical suppliers, agriculture retailers and consultants to help their growers. Their portfolio of services include crop scouting tools, imagery and analytics, and patentded pest detection.

Aker recognized by 2018 THRIVE at the Forbes AgTech Summit

Salinas, Calif., June 28, 2018—SVG Partners announced Philadelphia based startup Augean Robotics as the winner of the 2018 THRIVE AgTech Innovation Award early this morning during the fourth annual Forbes AgTech Summit. In addition to Augean Robotics, precision agriculture company Aker and microbiome company Intrinsyx Bio received honorable mentions.

SVG Partners Founder and CEO John Hartnett and THRIVE Platform Director Mareese Keane presented the award on the Forbes main stage as day two of the summit kicked off. “Each year we are continually impressed not only by the innovative technologies of these companies but also the caliber and level of leadership of each team,” Hartnett said. “The THRIVE Innovation Award is awarded to companies exemplifying the best in technology and leadership.”

Here’s the Aker pitch video and you can find more details from this event here.

Aker is chosen as a 2018 Red Herring Top 100 North America Winner

June 20, 2018, Los Angeles, U.S. – Red Herring today announced the winners of its Top 100 North America 2018 event, recognizing the continent’s most exciting and innovative private technology companies.

The winners, celebrated at a special awards ceremony at the Marina Del Rey Hotel, have been chosen from thousands of entrants, whittled down to hundreds making the trip to California. The ceremony, led by Red Herring chairman Alex Vieux, was preceded by two days of keynote speeches, discussions and finalist presentations.

Companies were judged by industry experts, insiders, and journalists on a wide variety of criteria including financial performance, innovation, business strategy and market penetration. Winners ran the gamut of verticals, from Agtech and marketing to security, IoT and many more.

Red Herring’s editors have been evaluating the world’s startups and tech companies for over two decades. It gives them the ability to see through the industry’s hype, to pick firms that will continue on a trajectory to success. Brands such as Alibaba, Google, Kakao, Skype, Spotify, Twitter and YouTube have all been singled out in Red Herring’s storied history.

“2018’s crop of Top 100 winners has been among our most intriguing yet,” said Vieux. “North America has led the way in tech for so many years, and to see such unique, pioneering entrepreneurs and companies here in California, which is in many ways the heartland of the industry, has been a thrilling experience.

“What has excited me most is to see so many people forging high-tech niches in high-tech and cutting-edge sectors,” added Vieux. “Some of the technical wizardry and first-rate business models on show here at the conference has been fantastic to learn about. We believe (COMPANY) embodies the drive, skill and passion on which t, ch thrives.  Aker Technologies Inc. should be proud of its achievement: the competition was incredibly strong.”

Following Aker’s Top 100 win it is invited to showcase itself at the Top 100 Global event in October. Red Herring is dedicated to support Aker’s continued path to success and innovation.

 

Save money and scout smarter with the new version of AkerScout.

Spring is here, and we are thrilled to announce an updated version of AkerScout™ for iPhone/iPad and Android. We have been working hard to add more features without compromising simplicity and reliability.

AkerScout™ is a FREE (no strings attached) and easy to use mobile crop scouting tool for growers, enterprise ag retailers and crop consultants to help prioritize, document and share integrated pest management scouting observations. We have NO limits on user accounts, storage, scouting observations recorded or acres in the system.

What’s New in 2018…
– Order high-resolution imagery* (premium)
– Ability to create farm and fields
– Easy-to-create field boundaries (CLU or drawn via mobile)
– Yield calculator (in partnership with Pro-Farmer)
– Support for multiple crop seasons per year
– Easy to assign a scouting task to yourself or others
– Now over 50+ crop types supported

And we improved…
– Ability to add pins and annotations (desktop only)
– SSURGO soil layer (desktop only)
– Manage unlimited growers, agronomist, scouts accounts
– Offline operation support for low Internet areas
– Capture geo-referenced field images
– Improved reporting (print and online)
– Download all your scouting data
– Fully integrated pest management recording
– Access via mobile app or online desktop

* Our high-resolution imagery service is available nationwide and quickly delivered to your AkerScout™ account.  Each field that we survey is reviewed by a staff of professional agronomists. Yes, that’s an actual person! We then identify areas of interest that you should scout first. Call +1-507-‭893-4545‬ to learn more about our premium services.

Thousands of users across 21 countries agree that AkerScout™ supports better in-season decisions that save time and protect crops, all this without spending a penny.

 

 

Shared values will move the Agri-Food data revolution into action!

Aker participated in a recent event hosted by FARM Illinois, “AT THE FOREFRONT: Propelling the Agri-Food Data Revolution.”

The two dominant themes for this event were (1) Agriculture data as a currency and considerations as it moves from farm to fork, and (2) How will this group seize the opportunity to enhance leadership and promote sustainable innovation in Illinois?

Rob Dongoski from Ernst and Young was the most provocative of the presenters with is challenge and scorecard on Agri-Food data; Who owns it? Why do consumers and producers care about it? What data is relevant and for what purpose? On average Rob gives C- on how the industry, in general, is dealing with these questions.

Important to note that agriculture data is not a commodity (limited by supply-demand market dynamics) but rather a currency with virtually an infinite dimension.

As a currency, Rob maintains that the study of agriculture data should center around data value, security and fraud, and how this information transacts frictionless at high velocity within this supply chain.

Data has the potential to transform the way we produce, process, manufacture, and distribute the food of the future. Technology is enabling the creation and proliferation of data across the entire agri-food supply chain. Supply chains, however, are traditionally linear with a discrete order of progression – input, produce, source, make, deliver, consume. To maximize the potential of data in the agri-food landscape, we must enable frictionless, transparent, and effective movement of data from farm-to-fork.

Kyle Doodley from CNH Industrial spoke next. Kyle has a background in human factors/ergonomics, yet he is responsible for the CNH’s overall data strategy and analytics. This skill set was a perfect match for his perspective. Kyle explained that the industry needs to work backward to understand valid use cases from the data to guide the collection and analysis. He also established that data acts as an exogenous factor to exert influence on its economic value. He asserted that agriculture data impacts the Total Factor Productivity (TFP) where there is a portion of output that cannot be explained by the input used in production.

I enjoyed visiting at our table with Kyle and listening to his wit. He shared how the largest companies in an industry often are not responsible for the means of data production or infrastructure, but rather create value from the transaction and transfer of data across the supply chain; Facebook is the largest content company, yet they don’t produce any. Uber is the largest transportation company and they do not own cars, etc.

Mark Beckmann, Director of Industry Solutions at Microsoft showed a map with players and actors across the industry and impressed that technology isn’t holding us back, people, cultural barriers, and process are what is holding the industry from full integration. According to Mark, the biggest challenge Microsoft is facing is how do we, as users of data, change behavior to create the most value out of data? Mark anticipates several breakthroughs with personalized data vault and greater adoption of related technologies to create transparency and opportunities for content owners – the farmers – to participate in the monetization stream of their data.

Aker is thrilled to be part of this effort. We bring a unique dataset to support in-season crop management to improve grower efficiency and customer service platform for Ag retailers and suppliers. Here are some my biggest takeaways from this event:

  1. Trust is the glue and the grease to help hold and mobilize agriculture data and the intrinsic value across the supply chain.
  2. Technology is not an answer. The real effort is exploring shared values to overcome barriers to adoption and change.
  3. My take: FARM Illinois has a unique opportunity to be not only an industry convener but also take an active role as a publisher and storyteller consolidating industry knowledge for the benefit of educating consumers.

Illinois has a lot of assets to support the industry move from participant to innovator with shared values that can engage the rest of the world in this conversation.