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Naspers Foundry to invest R100m in SA’s Aerobotics

Stephen Timm

Tech giant Naspers has announced today that it will invest R100-million in SA aerial-data analytics startup Aerobotics, through its early-stage business funding initiative Naspers Foundry.

The investment is pending approval by local regulatory authorities.

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Aerobotics is a subscription-based artificial intelligence (AI) company that provides intelligent tools for the agricultural industry to manage its crops.

The startup was founded by Benji Meltzer and James Paterson (pictured above, left to right) in 2014, is a leader in the application of artificial intelligence (AI) in agriculture.

Naspers’s R100-million in agritech startup Aerobotics is subject to approval by regulatory authorities

The insights Aerobotics provides to its clients include tree counts, the identification of missing trees, and the size and health of trees. The company has progressed its technology to engineer fruit counts, and to provide data on fruit size and colour.

Farmers use the intelligence to manage their farms, trees and fruit more efficiently. Aerobotics delivers the insights
through their proprietary Aeroview platform and Aeroview InField mobile app.

Naspers South Africa CEO Phuthi Mahanyele-Dabengwa stressed the importance of food security which has been highlighted further in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“This young, all South African team, has produced a world-class technology solution in South Africa
and has also successfully entered the US market where they are gaining momentum.

“This type of tech innovation addresses societal challenges, and is exactly the type of early-stage company that Naspers Foundry looks to back,” she said.

R29m Paper Plane Investment

Today’s announcement, follows Aerobotic’s announcement in February last year that it had received R29-million ($2-million) in investment from SA venture capital (VC) company Paper Plane Ventures (see this story).

In November last year Aerobotics was named the Best Startup and Venture Capital Company category at the 2019 Southern African Venture Capital and Private Equity Association (SavcaIndustry Awards (see this story).

Naspers Foundry, which was announced at the end of 2018, is a R1.4-billion initiative aimed at strengthening the SA tech sector by providing funding to talented and ambitious technology founders and entrepreneurs.

Last year, the initiative invested R30-million in online home cleaning services business, SweepSouth (see this story).

Read more: Aerobotics named Best Startup, Venture Capital Company at 2019 Savca Industry Awards
Read more: Naspers Foundry announces its first investment, with R30m in SweepSouth
Read more: SA startup Aerobotics secures R29m in funding from Paper Plane Ventures
Read more: SA’s Aerobotics launches five new precision agriculture products
Read more: SA drone startup Aerobotics launches bid to take on US market
Read more: SA startup Aerobotics secures funding round from Nedbank VC fund [Updated]
Read more: How Google Launchpad helped prepare newly cash flush Aerobotics to scale
Read more: Silicon Valley bound: Aerobotics team set to jet off to US for Launchpad Accelerator
Read more: Aerobotics one of three African startups selected for Launchpad Accelerator
Read more: SA drone startup Aerobotics secures R8m in funding from 4Di, Savannah Fund

Featured image: Aerobotics co-founders Benji Meltzer and James Paterson (Stephen Timm)

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