Portfolio company Fieldwork Robotics (“Fieldwork” or the “Company”) has raised £675,000 through an equity fundraising from existing and new investors.
The proceeds will be used to support development of the Company’s flexible agricultural robot technology for harvesting soft fruit and vegetables. They will allow Fieldwork to accelerate scale up of a raspberry harvesting robot to bring it to market. The funding also means the Company, a spin out from the University of Plymouth, is able to embark on the development of a cauliflower-harvesting robot in collaboration with Bonduelle, one of the world’s largest vegetable producers.
In addition to the fundraising, University of Plymouth Enterprises Limited, the University of Plymouth’s commercial consultancy and contract arm, has converted £44,000 of patent costs into equity. The funding round means Frontier IP’s equity stake in the business is now 22.2 per cent.
An alpha prototype of the raspberry harvester is to enter further field trials in July this year, subject to COVID-19 restrictions. Fieldwork will then focus on preparing the robot design for manufacture.
Fieldwork’s technology is designed to be flexible and modular so it can be adapted to harvesting different soft fruit and vegetables, and the Company is progressing with further applications for agriculture.
The technology’s potential has been recognised by Innovate UK, which awarded the Company a £547,250 Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund grant in November 2018 to accelerate development of its technology. This was part of a £671,484 project, whose other partners included the University of Plymouth and the National Physical Laboratory.
Innovate UK has since awarded a further three grants to the Company totalling £303,000 to accelerate development through the COVID-19 pandemic and a £50,000 Agritech-East Grant from Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority to support the cost reduction of specific components.
This fundraising allows us to start the work with Bonduelle and to accelerate the development of our raspberry harvesting robot. The investment demonstrates the strong interest in the technology at a time when growers all over the world are struggling to recruit labour.Rui Andres, Fieldwork Robotics Chief Executive Officer
I am delighted with the strong progress Fieldwork has made despite the challenges posed by COVID-19. This investment is an important step forward in allowing the company to achieve its ambitions.Frontier IP Chief Executive Officer Neil Crabb