London-based PlanetWatchers is a revolutionary crop monitoring company that provides detailed insurance and claims to provide assessment in just one hour. Today, the company has announced to have pocketed $3.5 million (nearly £2.5 million) in pre-Series A funding to support its growth plans as it aims to expand its services across America and into Europe over the next year.
UK VC led investment
UK-based Seraphim Capital, world’s first Venture Fund dedicated to financing the growth of companies operating in the ‘new space’ ecosystem, and Creative Ventures, a Deep Tech venture fund, co-led the funding round. Also, Trendlines Agrifood Fund and Ridgeline Partners also invested in this oversubscribed investment round.
PlanetWatchers will use the funds to significantly expand the commercial team and invest in ground-breaking technology to ensure it becomes the market leader in SAR-based data analytics.
Dominic Edmunds, Chief Executive for PlanetWatchers, said: “We are thrilled that Seraphim and Creative Ventures, as co-leads, have decided to join us on this journey as we aim to use the latest technology to transform the crop insurance market. We welcome the insight from all of our investors who bring with them extensive experience in the worlds of insurance, agriculture, the public sector and space technology.”
Mark Boggett, Chief Executive Officer of Seraphim Capital, said: “PlanetWatchers is an AaaS business driving new capability and pricing models which we hope will revolutionise the insurance industry, starting with the crop insurance industry, providing reliable data-driven insights that will enable considerable efficiencies and cost savings in their business. Our investment reflects the potential we believe this breakthrough technology will have across the environmental sector.”
Champ Suthipongchai, General Partner of Creative Ventures, said: “The number of extreme weather events has been increasing by 400% over the past 40 years, leaving the crop insurance industry vulnerable as the victim of climate change. We are convinced that PlanetWatchers’ leadership in SAR technology combined with the climate-induced market demand will pave the way to one of the most successful data analytics companies in this space.”
Trendlines Agrifood Fund CEO, Nitza Kardish, PhD, said: “Our investment in PlanetWatchers corresponds with our goals and objectives: the company has a robust and unique technology enabling direct access to a great deal of data to all players in the agri-food value chain, from the farmer in the field to insurance companies and banks. PlanetWatchers’ management and development teams bring excellent capabilities and a proven track record, which together with us and our financial and strategic co-investors, provide a complete set of skills and knowledge for the future of the company. In addition to the company’s important and direct contribution to its customers, it also makes a very significant contribution to minimizing the world’s carbon footprint.”
Ryan Clinton, General Partner of Ridgeline, said: “SAR has been around for a long time, but usage primarily centred around military applications. PlanetWatchers has taken advantage of these advancements and developed a unique AaaS offering capable of transforming a multitude of industries. Our investment demonstrates our belief that the technology and team at PlanetWatchers are best suited to disrupt these under-innovated industries starting with crop insurance. We look forward to partnering with the team as they continue to grow their existing technology and explore new markets.”
Machine learning for crop insurance
PlanetWatchers, founded by Ariel Smoliar, Roi Shilo, and Shai Lev, is a leading technology company that uses advanced machine learning to support crop insurers in reporting planting dates, acreage, crop classification and claims validation at scale.
It uses Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) data to provide accurate insight regardless of cloud cover, bad weather or poor lighting. PlanetWatchers exploits the unique benefits of SAR, to create in-season insights that reduce overheads and increase customer satisfaction.
PlanetWatchers works with crop insurance company ProAg, the World Bank and the Environmental Protection Agency. It uses time series-based radar data to provide detailed analysis of claims sans visiting the field. The use of SAR, a powerful remote sensing technology bouncing microwave signals off the Earth’s surface, helps PlanetWatchers to detect physical properties and the changes to them over time, providing valuable insight to its customers.