BIGSIS CLOSES OVERSUBSCRIBED SEED PLUS ROUND AT £1.5 MILLION
BigSis, the British agtech start-up promising low-regulation, chemical-free control for the majority of the world’s insect pests in horticulture and agriculture, announced today that it has closed its £1.5 million Seed Plus financing round, following success with key laboratory and testing milestones.
The oversubscribed round attracted significant attention from family offices and high-net-worth individuals, including repeat interest from existing investors as well as Board members.
The funding, which has a pre-money valuation of £5m, will allow BigSis to hit three key milestones for its first commercial solution, the control of Spotted Wing Drosophila (SWD). A global pest, SWD attacks soft fruit and – despite using existing controls, costing up to £11,000 per hectare – yield loss can amount to thousands of pounds for every hectare grown.
The company uses the sterile insect technique (SIT), a proven tool where sterile males are released to mate with wild females and so reduce the pest population. SIT is in commercial use and widely recognised as the perfect solution for insect pest control since its conception more than 60 years ago. It is species-specific, non-toxic and not susceptible to resistance. However, the conventional SIT process is cost-intensive, making it uneconomical for most market sectors.
BigSis has developed an innovative automated production system, slashing the cost of SIT solutions by up to 90 per cent. Harnessing artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics, the BigSis SIT platform raises insects individually, facilitating automated sex-sorting and targeted X-ray sterilisation that reduces the ‘fitness penalty’ on the released insects. Mass production is fully scalable, while remaining cost-effective at a local level. This enables micro-production units that can use local, native insects wherever a need is identified.
The Seed Plus round will allow BigSis to hit three key milestones for its SWD offer within nine months: finalising the first field-scale trial, which is in collaboration with a major UK berry grower; the completion of the pilot production line, allowing expanded field trials in 2022; and potential first sales, subject to trial results.
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