West Lafayette-based Solinftec has closed on a $60 million growth investment round. The company, which has developed a farm operations management software platform, says it will use the funding to grow the platform as it plans for future expansion. Solinftec’s software is designed to use artificial intelligence to analyze real-time data on crops, equipment, weather and other factors to help farmers address key issues in a more efficient and sustainable manner.
In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Chief Financial Officer Lais Braido says the investment is a bridge round leading to a larger Series C round of funding later this year.
“The use of proceeds that we imagine for now is first [to] accelerate the launch and development of new disruptive technologies, such as Solix, which is the robot we are launching this year to gather more agronomy data inside farms,” said Braido. “Also, [we are] expanding to small farmers. Right now, we have a good penetration with large farmers in Brazil and Latin America and parts of the U.S.”
The funding round was led by Lightsmith Group in New York, representing the company’s first U.S.-based investor. Existing investors Unbox Capital and Circularis Partners, both in Brazil, also participated in the round along with several undisclosed investors.
“As climate change and other disruptions continue to put pressure on agricultural productivity and food costs, we need to scale solutions that can help farmers increase productivity per acre while reducing input usage and increasing their responsiveness to changing climate and weather conditions,” Sanjay Wagle, managing director at Lightsmith Group,” said in written remarks “We are excited to partner with Solinftec in their next stage of growth to become the ‘operating system’ for intelligent, sustainable, and resilient farming.”
Solinftec was founded in Brazil and in early 2019 established its U.S. headquarters at the Purdue Research Park. Later that year, the company announced it was moving its global headquarters to West Lafayette.
Solinftec’s technology is currently being used to manage more than 27 million acres of field crops in Brazil, Latin America and the U.S. such as sugarcane, soy, corn, and cotton. It’s also used to manage perennial crops such as citrus, coffee and timber.
The company says the platform allows growers to optimally schedule and plan their farming operations including planting, spraying, harvesting, and tendering, while making real-time adjustments and decisions.
Solinftec announced the launch of Solix earlier this month and is partnering with Illinois-based agricultural cooperative GROWMARK Inc. to deploy the technology. The company says the robot will be able to autonomously scan and monitor fields and provide farmers and agronomists with “a new level of data to further increase yields, avoid wasted inputs, and lower environmental impacts.”
Braido says Solinftec’s long-term goals are to not only help produce more food, but develop technology to help farmers lower environmental impacts. She says they also want to make technology accessible to small farmers.
“Right now, if you go to Africa for instance, they don’t spray at all; they lose food to the pests because it’s too expensive to spray inputs with really large machinery or costly inputs, so we believe that lighter and smarter technologies will give accessibility and will be cheaper for smaller farms to help them control pests and other diseases in order to increase their own productivity.”
Braido says the company has plans for further expansion in the U.S. and Canada. Solinftec employs more than 700 people around the globe.