Sydney-based AirSeed Technologies is looking to raise up to $15 million in a Series A funding round to tap into what it estimates is a ‘billion-dollar opportunity’ for its novel drone-powered seed planting technology, and has partnered with a major impact investment manager to run a major carbon capture fund.
Announced today, AirSeed’s Series A will give the company funds to execute its ‘milestone contract’ with investment manager Conscious Investment Management (CIM) and scale the business to ‘maximise on this transformative opportunity’.
AirSeed CEO and co-founder Andrew Walker, who started the business with Andries Louw in 2019, said the business was in dialogue with corporate investors who saw economic and environmental opportunities in the biotechnology solution AirSeed develops that employs AI to have drones autonomously plant seed pods.
“AirSeed is now capitalising so that we can deliver on this unique and critical opportunity at scale,” Walker said.
“Launching our Series A funding round will drive AirSeed’s delivery of this massive opportunity and continue the transformation of our business to meet the rapidly growing appetite for reforestation and replanting opportunities at the scale necessary to help shift the dial on climate change.”
One of the scale-up's existing investors is venture capital and corporate advisory firm TWIYO, which led a bridging round late last year in the lead-up to the Series A.
“TWIYO was excited to double down on its investment in AirSeed prior to the end of the year, leading the $2.5 million bridge round in the lead-up to the current series A,” TWIYO managing partner Ryan Barnes told Business News Australia.
“We are incredibly excited with the CIM partnership to make a massive impact and scale AirSeed's proprietary biotech.”
The announcement comes as AirSeed has entered into a revenue-generating partnership with CIM on the investment manager’s $200 million ‘carbon sequestration fund’.
Under the partnership, AirSeed will act as CIM’s planting and tech collaborator for the carbon capture fund over the next five years, with the deal marking the scale-up’s first large-scale contract with a leading impact manager.
Other major projects previously secured by AirSeed include a collaboration with Telstra (ASX: TLS) to establish environmental plantings for a 240-hectare project and with Treasury Wine Estates’ (ASX: TWE) brand St Hubert’s The Stag to plant 100,000 seed pods this year.
AirSeed says the latest partnership validates the value proposition for the large-scale application of its hyer-productive planting solution.
“Securing an agreement to work with CIM as it establishes one of the largest carbon sequestration funds of this type is important validation of our value proposition for large-scale application of our solution and brings us significantly closer to our 100 million planting goal by 2024,” Walker said.
CIM partner Alex Debney said the firm was ‘delighted’ to welcome AirSeed as a partner.
“CIM’s carbon strategy focuses on working with high-quality mission-aligned environmental organisations to rapidly deliver emissions reduction and biodiversity outcomes,” Debney said.
“We look forward to delivering carbon sequestration and native Australian reforestation at institutional scale by working closely with AirSeed.”
To support the company’s growth, AirSeed has appointed climate transaction and business specialist Mara Bún to the company’s board.
Bún has a track record in climate, nature and impact campaigns and solutions and is chair of Australian Impact Investments and a non-executive director of Australian Ethical Investments and GreenCollar.
Walker hopes her appointment will help propel AirSeed’s mission to plant 100 million pods by 2024, including via projects that were ‘too large and too expensive to tackle until now’.
“This is a billion-dollar opportunity for AirSeed given our unique, scalable approach to rapid reforestation and investment in rigorous and robust reporting to show impact,” Walker said.
“Mara brings an impressive track record in successfully aligning strategy to global market opportunities for sustainability and corporate impact and extensive expertise in evaluating and mitigating risk.
“She has worked at the highest level of both sustainability and corporate and her insights are already proving invaluable.”
Bún said she saw ‘immense global opportunities for AirSeed’.
“According to the IPCC, since humans began our settlements 10,000 years ago, we have crunched through 70 per cent of nature. That just can't continue and AirSeed is the biggest bet for restoring all of that at scale and speed which is why I am delighted to be joining the board,” Bún said.
“There are immense global opportunities for AirSeed given the uniqueness of its bio-diverse, scalable “seed pod meets drone” system. Nowhere else is there proprietary technology where the pod captures the local biome and is planted and then monitored via drones for the best chance of success.
“AirSeed does this at an unprecedented scale and significantly cheaper and faster than human planting, with its technology providing robust and transparent reporting of impact. This is an increasingly core part of the success of the carbon and nature markets. Given the higher quality of restoration possible through AirSeed’s approach, there is also a very exciting opportunity to generate a higher quality of carbon credit.”
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