Iron Ox secures US$53m for robotic farming system

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Autonomous farming start-up Iron Ox has raised US$53m (£39m) in a Series C round, which it will use to expand its robotics and AI portfolio with the aim of making the global agriculture sector carbon negative.

The company is also working to accelerate its efforts to hire plant scientists, engineers, greenhouse operators and roboticists to join its California and Texas teams.

Led by new investor Breakthrough Energy Ventures, an investment group dedicated to achieving net-zero emissions by 2050, the funding round brings the total raised to US$98m (£72.1) in venture capital. Existing investors include Crosslink Capital, R7 Partners, Pathbreaker Ventures, ENIAC Ventures, Amplify Partners, At One Ventures and Y Combinator.

“World-class investors know that humanity’s most important pursuit is to reverse climate change. To get there, we can’t settle for incrementally more sustainable crops — and we can’t ask consumers to compromise on taste, convenience, or value,” said Brandon Alexander, co-founder and CEO.

“We are applying technology to minimise the amount of land, water and energy needed to nourish a growing population. The team at Iron Ox will not stop until we achieve our long-term mission of making the produce sector carbon negative.”

Iron Ox, which launched autonomous farming in 2018, grows produce in proprietary greenhouses designed from the ground up to mitigate the environmental impacts of agriculture. The company takes a data-driven approach backed by plant science, robotics, and AI.

According to the company, its closed-loop system optimises plant yield, expands growth cycles and maximises crop quality. The result is “delicious, nutritious, locally sourced fruits and vegetables with substantially lower environmental impacts.”

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