Tasmanian IoT company The Yield has received a boost to its operations with a $2.5 million investment from global technology and services provider Bosch Group.
Bosch – which assisted The Yield in developing a system to measure water conditions for Australia’s oyster farming industry – will increase its share-holding of the agtech company, and its Oceania regional president Gavin Smith will join The Yield’s board of directors.
Bosch will also continue to lend hardware and sensor expertise towards the creation of a microclimate sensing device that will provide the data for an agriculture management software platform currently being developed by The Yield.
This investment brings with it a global licensing deal, allowing The Yield to market its technology to overseas markets.
The announcement was made by Tasmania’s Premier Will Hodgman, who said the investment demonstrated his state’s ability to develop home-grown innovative solutions for a global marketplace.
“This deal reflects the great potential of not just The Yield, but the potential of Tasmania to generate new technology, highly-skilled jobs and investment,” he said.
“Tasmanian farmers will be the first to access The Yield’s products, giving them an enormous edge in a very competitive market.”
IoT development evolving out of the water
The Yield’s founder and managing director Ros Harvey told IoT Hub that Bosch's investment and expertise will be used to repurpose the company's acquaculture platform technology for agriculture applications.
Harvey said that microclimate data that is collected by the Bosch-built system will allow The Yield to manage the risks inherent in food production due to prevailing weather conditions, particularly in localised areas.
"A lot of our solutions use that foundational data to do things like improve on-farm productivity, reduce irrigation costs, optimise spray, and so on," she said.
Harvey hopes that The Yield's entry into the agriculture space will spawn multiple use cases for the data collected and the insights obtained.
She said that the shelf life of products to be transported from farms is influenced by the conditions in which food is harvested prior to packaging, which in turn affects the shelf life of these products at retail outlets.
"We could also [use the data to] manage risk for banks and insurance companies [who provide farmers with financial services]," she said.
Harvey said that the 'intelligent gateway' currently used in The Yield's oyster farming solution will also be used in its agriculture business, and she highlighted the importance of retaining cross-functionality for this and other components already available.
"What [The Yield] purposely does is pick off levels of the stack and innovate them one at a time; you don't want to be doing them all at once, because it gets very complex, especially in end-to-end IoT solutions," she said.
Harvey said the agreement with a multinational such as Bosch was the company's preferred strategic direction, instead of pursuing venture capital opportunities.
She also said that other companies had "expressed a strong interest" in The Yield's solutions, and that the board is currently assessing these approaches on a case-by-case basis.
The Yield will seek to build on its IoT solutions engineering and data analytics teams to complement staff already located in Sydney and Hobart, according to Harvey.
"Building up those teams [will be a focus], as will the work with Bosch in the embedded systems engineering side of things," she said.