Global investor FABALI has invested into Marlborough-based startup SmartMachine, citing its work as one of the most significant operational step changes for viticulture since the advent of the tractor 130 years ago.
SmartMachine’s first funding round has raised $1.93m, securing ongoing support from multinational Pernod Ricard Winemakers and attracting new Investors FABAL Investments Pty, New Zealand Growth Capital Fund, Angel Investors Marlborough and Angel HQ.
Company spokesman Andrew Kersley says that at a time where the investment market has been challenging, this successful close really highlights the uniqueness of the product offering and value proposition that the company’s products and service offer to global horticultural industries.
SmartMachine’s flagship product Oxin is the world’s first fully autonomous, multi-tasking viticultural robotic tractors. These cutting-edge machines promise to revolutionise the viticulture landscapes by enabling greater operational efficiencies and addressing the challenges posed by the ongoing labour shortages the industry faces.
FABALI Group chief executive Ashley Keegan says that after looking hard at the global landscape, this technology and the team behind it has the potential to be one of the most significant operational step changes for the industry since the advent of the tractor over 130 years ago.
Foundation partner Pernod Ricard Winemakers has backed the product and business from the beginning. Viticulture Transformation Manager David Allen says the company is proud of its continued investment in SmartMachine’s technology and seeing first-hand how it can revolutionise the viticulture landscape.
Angel Investors Marlborough led the round with good follow-on support from Angel HQ.
Andrew Kersley says both groups have members with great experience and connections in the markets SmartMachine is targeting.
“It’s really uplifting to have these New Zealand groups backing a New Zealand business.”
Andrew says it is “a really exciting time on all fronts of the business”.
“We are focusing on building out our revenue model in New Zealand, establishing our market position in Australia, while strategically working through our launch in the United States.
“We have industry and government backing through MPI and their Sustainable Farming Futures Fund to build a fully electric version of our machine, which will shift the dial even further regarding the sustainable benefits of this technology.
“Our incredible multi-disciplinary team continues to strengthen and grow, and the progress they continue to make on the business, products and the value proposition they provide to growers is inspiring.”