Germany, – Good news for herbicide-free agriculture. CROP.ZONE, manufacturer of the volt.fuel Electrical Weeding System, has significantly strengthened its capital base for entering into serial production.
Existing shareholders (incl. Nufarm Limited) and new financial investors (Demeter Investment Managers, Madaus Capital Partners) have increased the equity base of the Aachen-based company by almost 11 million USD.
The innovative CROP.ZONE system offers a natural organic alternative to non-selective synthetic herbicides such as Glyphosate or Diquat. As a highly productive and efficient solution, it is also used in desiccation applications and seedbed preparation. CROP.ZONE’S system is currently being successfully applied in Europe. It is available through crop.zone’s partners Nufarm, Kamps de Wild and fenaco.
CROP.ZONE’S and investors’ objectives for the USD 11 million investment are to open up new international markets and to develop additional agronomic treatment patterns for the crop.zone system.
“Our focus is investing in people, production and scaling. CROP.ZONE will change agriculture by giving the industry a tool to work in a more sustainable and organic manner. Our ambition is to rethink the way we farm.”
says CEO Dirk Vandenhirtz, highlighting the key issue that agriculture faces today and that CROP.ZONE aims to address with its renewed investment.
Intellectual property is the key when starting serial production of the system, which is already in use in Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland.
“We see the new investment as a great vote of confidence from our partners which shows a high level of trust in the path to a product ready for serial production. CROP.ZONE is now a mature technology that solves problems in international agriculture. It is easy for farmers to use, renders the use of harmful herbicides superfluous and enables a major contribution to CO2-reduced agriculture,” Dirk Vandenhirtz continues.
CROP.ZONE’S existing shareholders, who have co-invest in the current financing round, include Nufarm Limited, a leading developer and manufacturer of crop protection solutions and seed technologies. The company, which has more than 2,500 employees, serves major agricultural markets in Europe, North America and Asia Pacific and is headquartered in Melbourne, Australia. Nufarm Regional General Manager EuMEA, Hildo Brilleman, says that Nufarm was proud to strengthen its existing partnership with CROP.ZONE as it continues to build on its expanding portfolio of sustainable solutions for farmers:
“This new funding round allows CROP.ZONE to expand their technology into new crops and segments. We are proud to be part of this journey to develop a sustainable potato desiccation and weed control offer for European farmers. Full commercialization of NUCROP will begin this year after a successful trial season in various European countries. As a key partner for commercialization, Nufarm will market the CROP.ZONE solution under its own brand NUCROP across our distribution partners for Ag inputs and farm equipment.”
The investment by Demeter Investment Managers, a major European player in venture capital and private equity for the ecological transition, shows the importance of CROP.ZONE system’s unique selling point offers an alternative to pesticides in farming. Demeter Managing Partner Cyrille Cabaret says:
“At Demeter Investment Managers, we believe there is an urgent need to find alternatives to chemical non-selective herbicides in agriculture. The electrical hybrid technology developed by CROP.ZONE offers farmers an effective, competitive, and organic solution for crop management. We are thrilled to accompany the CROP.ZONE team in this new development phase alongside renowned partners like Nufarm, LBBZ and Madaus Capital Partners.”
Through its subsidiary RWTH Innovation, RWTH continues to support CROP.ZONE in the current financing round. CROP.ZONE had already been supported to get going by participating in the RWTH Innovation Sprint, a pre-seed funding mechanism by RWTH Innovation supported by the Exzellenz Start-up Center. NRW initiative of the NRW Ministry for Economic Affairs. The Innovation Sprint helped CROP.ZONE to build a prototype and thus validate the business case of their technology.
“Then, as now, the potential of an environmentally impactful technology embedded in the regional research and innovation ecosystem and run by a team with a profound industry expertise has been the key argument for us to get involved,” says Bram Wijlands, Managing Director at RWTH Innovation. “This technology fully embodies the spirit of RWTH Aachen being the seedbed for profound tech innovations”