// EXCLUSIVE! Local agtech startup Laconik has added to its recent $383K Accelerating Commercialisation grant and $500K Singaporean VC investment…
Building on a recent Accelerating Commercialisation grant and its first tranche of investment from Singaporean VC Wavemaker Partners, CERI-based agtech Laconik has closed an additional $250K round of investment with Artesian.
“The support Laconik has received from two globally focussed venture capital funds, Wavemaker Partners from Singapore and Artesian from Sydney, positions the business well for future growth,” co-founder Dr Darren Hughes told Startup News.
If that’s not enough, the company also won a $19K Premier’s Agriculture and Aquaculture Entrepreneurship grant that will allow them to visit a global agtech conference in Chicago next month.
Dr Darren Hughes also plans to meet major US-based agtech providers to identify innovation that can enhance Laconik’s fertiliser technology. Darren is seeking innovation around farm machinery, software and data analytics and will look to integrate this into the Laconik product, which is designed to assist grain farmers better manage their fertiliser use. Nitrogen fertiliser can account for 20% of a typical wheat farmer’s annual costs.
It’s been a busy few months for the Nedlands-based startup, which has delivered precision Nitrogen fertiliser recommendations to 15,000 hectares of WA broad acre farmland during the current growing season.
This has involved more than 50 trial sites – mainly wheat, barley and canola farms – which are evaluating the technology under real world conditions.
“We simply provide the farmer with a precise recommendation on where and how much fertiliser to apply and where to maximise profit, and in a challenging season (due to low rainfall) like 2019 it has been well received.
“Feedback from farmers has been very positive and many have indicated they would like to use the technology again next season.”Dr Darren Hughes
With the annual harvest almost upon us, Ben Austen, recent PhD student from Curtin University, has started a 5-month internship with Laconik and will work on analysing the results from the trials.
Laconik’s team has grown quickly with five staff now working on refining the current technology and developing new technology with a full time CTO to broaden the company’s product offering in 2020.
The team has recently partnered with local development company Tekkon Technologies to build the software required to deliver the technology at scale.
Source of Funds
Laconik’s new $250K investment comes from GrainInnovate and SproutX.
GrainInnovate is a venture capital fund that has money from Artesian and the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC). GRDC is the nation’s biggest investor in research and development in the grains industry, with an annual budget close to $200M per year.
“The investment from GrainInnovate now means that every wheat farmer in Australia is supporting the development of Laconik’s unique technology to improve fertiliser decisions,” said Darren.
SproutX is a fund set up to support Australian agtech startups.
Use of Funds
The additional investment will allow Laconik to further develop its technology. It is using machine learning to develop new algorithms to improve phosphorus and potassium fertiliser decisions, in addition to nitrogen.
Results from the Laconik trials should be known in the new year, with the company looking to commercialise the technology in time for the 2020 growing season.
MAIN Image: Laconik co-founders Darren Hughes and Wayne Pluske at their CERI offices in Nedlands. For more information on Laconik, visit their website.