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Bosch, KPMG back agtech startup The Yield in AU$6.5m round

Agtech startup The Yield has raised AU$6.5 million in a Series A funding round led by Bosch, bringing its total investment to AU$11.5 million.

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Ros Harvey, founder and CEO, The Yield

(Image: Microsoft/The Yield)

Australian agtech startup The Yield has announced that it has raised AU$6.5 million from lead investor Bosch, as well as from KPMG and AgFunder.

The closure of the Series A funding round brings the total amount raised by the two-year-old Tasmanian startup to AU$11.5 million.

The Yield's microclimate sensing system, Sensing+, uses sensors, predictive analytics, and artificial intelligence -- combining its own technology with those from Microsoft, Bosch, and Intel -- to help growers make critical decisions faster.

The system has been used in aquaculture to predict, for example, when oysters need to be pulled out of the water based on information such as salinity levels and temperature. If there was a storm and the oyster farmer knew contaminated water was going to flow towards the oyster farm in the coming days, then they could proactively harvest the oysters, for instance.

The Yield will be using the funds to support the commercial deployment of Sensing+ in the second half of 2017. The funds will also be used for investment in sales and marketing capabilities, new product development, and entry into international markets -- particularly the US west coast.

Founder and CEO of The Yield, Ros Harvey, said Australia is the "perfect breeding ground for agtech innovation" because the conditions there are "so tough".

"Farmers and growers are incredible risk takers when you think about what they do. Growing something is an incredibly complex thing to do. It's not like a factory. You've got all these different variables to take into account. You're constantly making decisions about when to plant, when to irrigate, when to protect, when to feed, when to harvest," Harvey told ZDNet this year in an interview about using IoT to transform the agriculture industry in Australia.

Harvey said creating reliable and accurate technology that growers can use every day is essential.

"We also need to deliver these solutions at scale, which means bringing in the right strategic investors," she added.

"We now have some of the world's best engineers from Bosch working on our microclimate system, we have KPMG's deep industry insights and commercial expertise, and AgFunder's global community helping us bring solutions to growers in Australia and beyond."

Bosch and KMPG both admitted that the investment is strategic in that it will allow the companies to bring their solutions together and deploy them as a package.

Meanwhile, The Yield is AgFunder's first global investment from its new agtech investment vehicle, which is currently being finalised.

Michael Dean, AgFunder's Australian co-founder and CIO, said The Yield's strength lies in its ability to provide farmers with actionable, granular, real-time insights into the microclimates developing on their farms."

"Developed and proven in harsh aquatic environments, the accuracy and reliability of The Yield's technology and simple delivery of useful data is the perfect platform for producers of all types of high-value crops such as nuts and berries," Dean said.

"We are delighted to be an early stage investor in The Yield, and look forward to utilising our global network to assist with its development and expansion internationally."

In March, Food Agility -- a consortium of commercial companies, universities, and farming industry bodies looking to facilitate the digital transformation of agriculture industry in Australia -- received AU$50 million as part of the Australian government's Cooperative Research Centres (CRC) program.

The government funding adds to the AU$160 million in contributions -- both monetary and non-monetary -- previously raised by the organisation from partners such as KPMG, National Australia Bank, IAG, and Bosch.

Moving forward, Food Agility's innovation programs will seek to deploy real-time big data market intelligence and predictive analytics to help farmers produce the right products at the right time, connect food producers with consumers in new ways, and develop a common knowledge base.