Meet Ecorobotix CEO Simon Aspinall, the Venture Leader Technology disrupting agricultural practices and technologies for the benefit of the environment. Ecorobotix’s AI and machine-learning agricultural technology enables the ultra-precise treatment of individual plants, thereby massively reducing the use of herbicides, insecticides, pesticides, and liquid fertilizers. Simon and the other members of the Swiss National Startup Team will head to Silicon Valley for an investor roadshow.
Name: Simon Aspinall
Education: Oxford University, MA (Engineering & Computer Science), in 1991 and Insead, MBA, in 1996
Job title: CEO
Number of employees: 68
Money raised: USD 40 million
First touchpoint with Venturelab: Venture Leaders, 2023
Whom does your product or solution help, and how?
By using machine learning to treat plant by plant Ecorobotix reduces agricultural chemical use by ~80-95%, boosts crop yields by ~5%, improves biodiversity, and reduces agricultural CO2 footprint by ~0.22 tons/ha.
How did you come up with the idea for your startup?
We wanted to use technology to radically improve agriculture by respecting the environment and reducing chemical use, water use, energy use, and soil impact.
What excites you most about your work right now?
We’re very proud to be the first company to provide an ultra-high precision spot spraying solution to customers in 14 countries and, as such, to be helping to produce more crops, reduce chemical use, improve biodiversity, and reduce CO2 production.
“The core value of Ecorobotix is to radically change agriculture for the better by respecting the environment.”
How did you go about building your team?
Ecorobotix had a great team and founders. We have expanded the team with experienced executives who have built multiple successful businesses – and also added deep sector expertise.
What are your team’s key achievements to date?
Ecorobotix main achievements have been to develop machine learning recognition for 10+ crops as well as major weed types that can be used in the field by farmers and producers. Our ultra-high precision spraying solution delivers an accuracy of 6cm by 6cm allowing us to target individual plants. For comparison: our competition has an accuracy of 1m by 1m. We’re also very proud of helping farmers produce more crops (5-30% more) while reducing chemical use by 75-90% and reducing CO2 and biodiversity impacts.
How did you come up with the name of your startup?
Ecorobotix was founded and named based on the vision of using technology to reduce the environmental impact of farming. The company initially developed autonomous robot tools and now produces ultra-high precision spraying solutions that are towed behind tractors. Since its founding in 2015, the company has lived its vision as an environmental business and is recognized as a certified B corporation, also winning multiple industry awards (SIVA, SIMA, High growth startup, etc.)
Is there a key principle or value that guides you as you build your company?
The core value of Ecorobotix is to radically change agriculture for the better by respecting the environment and reducing chemical use, water use, energy use, and soil impact. Rather than making incremental changes to existing technology, we have radically reinvented a crop treatment solution with ultra-high precision and using AI to treat individual plants instead of the indiscriminate spraying of entire fields.
Which startup do you wish you had founded and why?
It’s slightly cliched but it’s wonderful to see startups that have redefined whole industries and forced worldwide change. Companies like Tesla forcing electric cars into the market, SpaceX changing space travel, or MNRA vaccine delivery are great examples of types of changes that inspire us.
Tell us something people don’t know about you.
I’ve been very fortunate to have many opportunities in life; whether having lived in seven different countries, competing internationally as a fencer, or being part of a successful unicorn start-up…
What is your favorite book and why?
I have many different books and no clear favorites as I enjoy science fiction, fantasy, and non-fiction equally. A really insightful book I’d recommend is Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond – a thought-provoking story of how civilizations evolved and what inventions and environments drove the world we live in today.
ABOUT THE PROGRAM
The Venture Leaders Technology 2023 were chosen from over 150 applications by a jury of investors and technology experts. The roadshow in Silicon Valley, one of the world’s most important tech hubs, provides a unique opportunity for entrepreneurs to accelerate their startups’ expansion in the US while expanding their professional network and profiting from workshops with investors and industry leaders. This year’s Venture Leaders Technology is co-organized by Venturelab and supported by Canton of Vaud, Canton of Zürich, EPFL, ETH Zürich, Kellerhals Carrard, and Rothschild & Co.
Ecorobotix collects and analyses plant level data using cameras and AI/ML and applies precision spraying of crop protection chemicals (pesticide and fertilizers) – reducing chemical use by 95%, massiv… Read more