A fledgling New Zealand agritech company run by a rising Kiwi entrepreneur who has worked for Rocket Lab has raised $8 million, from Silicon Valley venture capital firm Data Collective, which is likely to result in massive changes to the nation’s burgeoning dairy industry.
Waikato company Halter will use the $8 million boost to help farms guide and manage their dairy cows by using IoT and artificial intelligence, sustainably increasing production, saving billions in labour costs and improving environmental compliance and animal welfare.
NZ IoT Alliance executive director Kriv Naicker says Halter will commercialise its patented technologies that shift and manage livestock, starting with cows, using an AI and IoT powered system which steers cows around the farm.
“Halter’s solar powered GPS-enabled intelligent neck band directs cows, so farmers can shift and manage their cows remotely with a few simple swipes on a screen,” Naicker says.
“Complex cow movements, path planning, health and heat detection is all done by AI behind Halter’s platform. Halter’s app moves herds to and from the milk shed, receive alerts when cows are showing signs of poor health and provides virtual fences keeping cows out of rivers and drains.
“This convergence of IoT and artificial intelligence (AI) in the agritech sector is a massive milestone in New Zealand technology, which is the country’s fastest growing sector.
“We are excited to see more of these cutting-edge, world-first tech developments which are supported by the NZ IoT Alliance, the NZAI Forum and the recently formed AgritechNZ which are all under the NZTech umbrella,” Naicker says.
Craig Piggott, Halter’s chief executive and founder, says they have produced technology for the future of dairy farming globally. Halter's investment round was led by Data Collective, the largest backers of Rocket lab; with support from Founders Fund (Peter Thiel), and Ubiquity ventures.
“Every day, we talk to incredible farmers who are looking for ways to meet increasing food demands while running an environmentally sustainable operation and near continuously monitoring the health and wellbeing of their herd. It’s a constant juggle that involves working huge hours.”
The company currently employs nearly 20 engineers, scientists and animal behaviour experts. The Silicon Valley, Series A funding will see the team grow four-fold and Halter is looking to recruit a number of positions in Auckland and the Waikato region including engineering technicians, data analysts and cow behavioural experts ahead of commercial roll-out.
Rocket Lab CEO and Halter Director, Peter Beck, continues his support of the company.
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