UK agtech startup raises £1.2m

Business news |
By Nick Flaherty

The £1.2m (€1.4m) funding for Antobot in Cambridge comes from Intron Technology Holdings, a leading automotive electronics solutions provider, for support in supply chain, manufacturing and quality assurance.

The UK agricultural industry is facing a shortage of around 70,000 workers for 2021 and agricultural robotics are seen as key tools for short-cycle repetitive tasks. Antobot is developing vertically-integrated robotics AI systems optimised for agriculture with products expected in the market in 2022. The first agtech robot system, called Insight, is being tested in fruit farms this summer.   

The first product line is a fully integrated automotive-grade universal Robot Control Unit (uRCU) that combines multiple modules with embedded AI software, to be followed byu the Insight robot.

“The integrated design makes the uRCU smaller, more reliable and affordable than other existing solutions, and the full-stack AI also confers performance benefits with its universal, configurable design that can adapt to different farmer needs,” said Howard Wu, CEO of Antobot. 

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This funding will enable Antobot to develop various agtech applications using its modular platform, starting with the Insight scouting robot. This is aimed at the UK fruit sector, Insight travels autonomously through the farm and, using artificial intelligence, gathers data for insight into crop yield, profile, and pest / disease management. Unlike manual scouting or scouting using large heavy machinery, Insight is powered by renewable energy and does not require any labour. 

“The development of Insight has been directly informed by the experiences of our partner fruit-growers in the UK – their concerns over achieving the NFU’s 2040 Net Zero goal and the loss of agri-labour. Insight will provide accurate yield forecasts, real-time crop management and digitisation of the supply chain using this early growth-stage data, which can give growers greater weight in contract negotiations, decrease avoidable food waste and enable more efficient use of limited labour,” said Marc Jones, business director at Antobot.

Antobot has been supported by various organisations including Agri-TechE, Agri-EPI, Innovate UK, Eastern Agri-Tech Growth Initiative, St John’s Innovation Centre, ideaSpace of Cambridge University, and Anglia Ruskin University. .  

“We are strongly committed to Research and Development at Intron, particularly when promoting sustainability. And we are looking forward to working with Antobot, learning from each other, and helping Antobot grow into the leading force in the agricultural robotics sector we know it can be” Eddie Chan, Co-CEO and Executive Director of Intron Technology.

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