AACHEN, Germany, June 10, 2022 — CROP.ZONE, manufacturer of the volt.fuel Electrical Weeding System, has strengthened its capital base for entering into serial production. Existing shareholders and new financial investors have increased the equity base of the Aachen-based company by almost $11 million.
The system uses an electrical current to destroy weeds. Like the broad-spectrum herbicides it is being developed to replace, it affects only the plants treated and kills the affected plant to the root — without chemical toxicity, residues or the development of weed resistance. It is also used in desiccation applications and seedbed preparation. CROP.ZONE'S system is currently being successfully applied in Europe. It is available through crop.zone's partners Nufarm, Kamps de Wild and fenaco.
CROP.ZONE's and investors' objectives for the $11 million investment are to open up new international markets and to develop additional agronomic treatment patterns for the CROP.ZONE system.
"Our focus is investing in people, production and scaling. CROP.ZONE will change agriculture by giving the industry a tool to work in a more sustainable and organic manner. Our ambition is to rethink the way we farm," says CEO Dirk Vandenhirtz.
Intellectual property is the key when starting serial production of the system, which is already in use in Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland.
"We see the new investment as a great vote of confidence from our partners which shows a high level of trust in the path to a product ready for serial production. CROP.ZONE is now a mature technology that solves problems in international agriculture. It is easy for farmers to use, renders the use of harmful herbicides superfluous and enables a major contribution to CO2-reduced agriculture," Vandenhirtz says.
CROP.ZONE'S existing shareholders, who have co-invest in the current financing round, include Nufarm Limited, a developer and manufacturer of crop protection solutions and seed technologies. The company, which has more than 2,500 employees, serves major agricultural markets in Europe, North America and Asia Pacific, and is headquartered in Melbourne, Australia.
"This new funding round allows CROP.ZONE to expand their technology into new crops and segments," says Nufarm Regional General Manager Hildo Brilleman. "Full commercialization of NUCROP will begin this year after a successful trial season in various European countries. As a key partner for commercialization, Nufarm will market the CROP.ZONE solution under its own brand NUCROP across our distribution partners for ag inputs and farm equipment."
The investment by Demeter Investment Managers, a European player in venture capital and private equity for the ecological transition, shows the importance of CROP.ZONE system's unique selling point offers an alternative to pesticides in farming.
"At Demeter Investment Managers, we believe there is an urgent need to find alternatives to chemical non-selective herbicides in agriculture," says Demeter Managing Partner Cyrille Cabaret. "The electrical hybrid technology developed by CROP.ZONE offers farmers an effective, competitive and organic solution for crop management. We are thrilled to accompany the CROP.ZONE team in this new development phase alongside renowned partners like Nufarm, LBBZ and Madaus Capital Partners."
Through its subsidiary RWTH Innovation, RWTH continues to support CROP.ZONE in the current financing round. CROP.ZONE had already been supported to get going by participating in the RWTH Innovation Sprint, a pre-seed funding mechanism by RWTH Innovation supported by the Exzellenz Start-up Center. NRW initiative of the NRW Ministry for Economic Affairs. The Innovation Sprint helped CROP.ZONE to build a prototype and thus validate the business case of their technology.
CROP.ZONE is one of the startups participating in John Deere's year-long 2022 Startup Collaborator program.