Blue River Technology, a Sunnyvale, California-based provider of computer vision, machine learning and robotics solutions for agriculture, raised $17m in Series B funding. The round was led by Pontifax Global Food and Agriculture Technology Fund (Pontifax AgTech) with participation from new investors Syngenta Ventures and Monsanto Growth Ventures and existing investors Data Collective Venture Capital, Khosla Ventures and Eric Schmidt’s Innovation Endeavors.
Blue River began as an idea hatched by two Stanford graduate students: Jorge, former head of precision agriculture at Trimble Navigation, and Lee, a PhD student and roboticist. While taking Steve Blank’s Lean LaunchPad course, Jorge and Lee had a wild ambition: to make farming more sustainable through robotics and computer vision.
During the course, the team built and tested its first prototype in California’s ripe Central Valley – successfully demonstrating a computer that could recognize distinct plants. With seed funding from several professors, including Blank, and an NSF SBIR grant, Jorge and Lee took the leap and incorporated. They named their venture Blue River Technology – capturing the spirit of the sustainable, dynamic, ever-advancing company they wanted to build.
Blue River Technology smart machines are able to sense each individual plant, instantly determine its health, structure and needs, and precisely apply the right amount of care – all in real time, at tractor speed. Rather than treating every plant the same way, robots can nurture each plant with fewer inputs. They can find and treat the plant that needs “surgery” and the plant that only needs an “aspirin”. Their robots are at work in vegetable fields and we call the type of work they do “plant-by-plant care”. They are expanding to other crops and will help farmers increase yields and profits by replacing broadcast spray with targeted controls.