Bees are becoming an endangered species; in Ireland alone, one-third of 98 bee species face extinction. However the Cork-based agtech startup ApisProtect is taking action to help bees survive and flourish, using IoT sensors to monitor honey bee colonies. The company just raised a €1.5 million seed round led by Finistere Ventures and Atlantic Bridge Capital, with participation from Radicle Growth, the Yield Lab and Enterprise Ireland.
Honey bees play an essential role in global food production, contributing €153 billion worth of pollination to the agriculture industry annually. One-third of all food we eat depends on pollinators, and there are 91 million managed beehives worldwide. ApisProtect helps commercial beekeepers more effectively manage colonies, and helps growers to optimise pollination.
With ApisProtect, beekeepers don’t need to rely on periodic, manual hive checks that can allow disease, pests and other issues to deteriorate hive health beyond rescue. The company now monitors the health of over six million honey bees in hives across Europe and North America, using the power of advanced sensors and machine learning to deliver a 24/7 early warning system, so beekeepers can give at-risk hives immediate attention and improve bee health.
Founded in 2017, ApisProtect will use the new funding to scale rapidly – deploying its IoT technology to more climates, bee sub-species and bee foraging areas. Its key focus will be establishing a presence in North America, South Africa and the United Kingdom, as well as growing its team in Ireland.
Dr Fiona Edwards Murphy, CEO and co-founder, ApisProtect said: “This investment will allow us to accelerate our expansion as we work to create an extensive global hive health database to power our machine learning insights. We look forward to building our team of AI specialists, engineers and scientists over the next three years to 25 staff, and helping to reduce honey bee losses worldwide.”
Kieran Furlong of Finistere Ventures said: “With a science-driven, multi-disciplinary leadership team, ApisProtect is primed to fundamentally change the way commercial beekeepers around the globe manage their hives. Our Ireland Agtech Fund is dedicated to investing in early stage agtech companies reshaping the global food and ag industries. ApisProtect was the prime candidate for the fund’s first Irish investment. There is a need for technologies to aid pollination in agriculture, and ApisProtect hive monitor technology has massive potential in key markets like California.”