Vancouver’s Semios cultivates US$75m for crop health

Semios Technologies has developed sensors and pheromone dispensers that rely on wireless networks to detect pests and monitor the approach of harmful weather | Submitted

What happened: Agtech firm Semios raises US$75 million

Why it matters: The company is among a growing number of B.C. tech firms specializing in agriculture that are drawing big dollars from investors

A Vancouver tech firm specializing in using sensors and data to ensure healthy crops for farmers will be boosting its own growth following a US$75 million (C$99 million) investment.

SemiosBio Technologies Inc. announced its latest capital raise Tuesday (February 18) as part of a funding round led by Boston-based Morningside Group.

The B.C. company is know for developing wireless network technology for farms and orchards that helps create stronger yields by fighting pests and monitoring for diseases and harmful weather.

Its devices can detect and identify agricultural pests and trigger the release of pheromones to confuse them and thwart their mating.

Following the latest funding round, Semios’ total capital raise now stands at US$115 million.

"Capitalizing companies that are solving important and complex problems with data is an area of focus of our investment team," Morningside Group investment manager Mick Sawka said in a statement.

"Semios' proven track record growing revenues through innovation is exemplary. Their work has made farming more environmentally sustainable, more productive and therefore enhanced the security of our food chain."

The company plans to use the additional money to further its research, development and partnerships, as well as look into possible acquisitions.

Three years ago Semios had 150,000 sensors and cameras deployed to monitor the health of trees that produce fruit or nuts.

That has since grown to a million sensors, while revenue has, on average, doubled year-over-year since 2015, according to the company.

“Whenever you have a complex biosystem, because there’s so many factors at play, you need the numbers to see the trends and solve the problems,” CEO Michael Gilbert told Business in Vancouver last month.

“So we’re finally at a place with a million sensors … that it’s really going to accelerate our understanding of why things happen. And I suspect that’s going to be a major competitive barrier to other incumbents coming in.” 

Semios’ raise comes shortly after fellow Vancouver-based agtech firm Terramera Inc. closed out a Series B round to the tune of US$48.5 million.

Terramera’s flagship chemistry technology, Actigate, can be licensed to producers of both natural and synthetic pesticides to improve the efficiency, uptake and performance of the active ingredients in crop protection products.

The technology would allow farmers to increase the performance of materials sprayed on agriculture while reducing the overall amount required.

The company’s goal is to reduce synthetic chemicals used in agriculture globally by 80% by 2030.

torton@biv.com

@reporton