The entrepreneurial landscape of the Pacific Northwest is brimming with innovative startups that are making their mark on various industries. One such noteworthy player in this arena is Aigen, a Seattle-based startup offering solar-powered robots designed to tackle those pesky weeds on farms.
Having secured a fresh $12 million investment, Aigen is setting the stage for large-scale deployment of its state-of-the-art solar-powered robot, which is ingeniously equipped with advanced computer vision models. These models empower the robot to identify and efficiently eliminate weeds.
Introduced recently as the “Aigen Element”, this high-tech tool boasts two robotic arms that precisely target and eliminate unwanted plants, ensuring a cleaner and healthier farm. With the added advantage of solar power, the robot can work tirelessly for up to 14 hours without any need for external charging.
But Aigen isn’t stopping at just weed-thumping robots. They’re diving deeper into the realms of AI by developing an energy-efficient model that can dispatch real-time data about crops directly to farmers via a mobile application. This forward-thinking approach aims to equip farmers with instantaneous insights about their fields, thereby enabling them to make informed decisions. Additionally, by providing such cutting-edge solutions, the startup envisions a future where farmers can substantially reduce carbon emissions and operational costs.
Kenny Lee, the enthusiastic co-founder and CEO of Aigen, confirmed the new funding. While he stayed tight-lipped about the finer details, he hinted at revealing the investors soon. Lee’s impressive background in cybersecurity, including a startup called Weblife.io that was acquired in 2017, bolsters the credibility and potential of Aigen. Lee’s other half at Aigen, co-founder Rich Wurden, brings his expertise from his tenure at the electric boat company, Pure Watercraft, in Seattle and as a mechanical engineer at Tesla. The duo’s partnership was serendipitous, thanks to a climate-focused Slack group chat geared towards guiding engineers to channel their skills to address climate challenges.
The innovation of Aigen is reminiscent of another Seattle-based startup, Carbon Robotics, known for its weed-zapping robots. However, what sets Aigen apart is its unwavering commitment to renewable energy, as highlighted by Wurden.
This commitment was vividly showcased when Aigen’s Element saw its pre-orders selling out in just a day, underlining the rising enthusiasm among U.S. farmers for technologically advanced weeding solutions.
Increasing operational costs and evolving challenges in the agricultural sector are nudging farmers towards adopting ag-tech products. A report by McKinsey & Co. underlines this trend, revealing that a staggering 39% of farmers globally are considering incorporating at least one ag-tech product in the forthcoming two years.
Even though the ag-tech sector experienced a slight dip in funding last year, the situation is improving. To add to their recent funding achievement, Aigen had previously secured a $4 million seed round in 2022, raising their overall funding to approximately $7 million. This pool of investment has been contributed by illustrious investors such as NEA, AgFunder, Global Founders Capital, ReGen Ventures, Bessemer Venture Partners, Industrious Ventures, E2 Ventures, and Cleveland Avenue.