GrainCorp, GRDC invest in ZoomAgri

Grain Central, July 24, 2023

ZoomAgri already has commercial relationships in Australian barley testing, including variety identification. Photo: ZoomAgri

GRAINCORP is co-leading a $9-million investment round into ZoomAgri, alongside GrainInnovate, the venture-capital fund partnership between Grains Research Development Corporation and Artesian, with further participation from existing investors SP Ventures.

Already a player in barley testing in Australia, ZoomAgri launched the Series A investment round to upscale and broaden commodity coverage.

“We’ve been trialling two ZoomAgri units at our receival sites on the east coast of Australia for the past few years to detect sieving and quality defects in barley,” GrainCorp chief executive officer Robert Spurway said.

“They have developed advanced prototypes during the last three years for variety testing and physical quality determination, and our investment will support more product development into new commodities such as wheat.”

The move comes in a bid to reduce the number of times grain needs to be analysed across the supply chain, currently up to 14 for exported product before it arrives at the customer’s dock.

ZoomAgri is a global agtech company bringing AI and machine learning (ML) to varietal recognition and quality testing, and co-founder Jaap Rommelaar said the idea for the technology was founded in grains and oilseeds trading.

“We would purchase the commodities locally from farmers and get them into the silos, but when we asked the silo manager about the quality, they didn’t know,” Mr Rommelaar said.

“On top of that, we’d export vessels of soybeans and only receive a report about a quality issue two days later, when it was too late to change anything.

“We eventually found a way to conduct one scan using artificial intelligence, where we could analyse the quality and see the variety of a certain grain kernel.

“We now work with clients in 25 countries and have combined technology, agronomy and commercial industry experience to grow into the company we are now.

ZoomAgri was recently approved as an official method of use by Mitteleuropäische Brautechnische Analysenkommission e.V. (MEBAK), the Central European Commission for Brewing Analysis, for use of the technology to analyse varietal purity of malting barley throughout supply chains.

“It’s an exciting step forward and the objective in Australia now is to grow our team and continue developing solutions to add value to the whole Australian supply chain, from growers and handlers to processors and exporters.”

GRDC head of business development Fernando Felquer said AI technology was an important area of investment for the research corporation.

“Development of new technology that can complement or eventually even replace current quality assessment methods to make transactions faster and more accurate is an important area of investment that will enhance efficiency across the entire supply chain,” Mr Felquer said.

“This is why GRDC, through GrainInnovate is pleased to continue the support the company’s technology development program and roll out in Australia.”

Source: GrainCorp

READ about ZoomAgri’s involvement in barley testing in Australia in this story, part of the Grain Central Grain AI series published earlier this year.


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