The newly certified B-Corp startup Vivent provides growers with a technology to monitor plants’ health and thereby improve both yield and sustainability. The Tech Growth loan from the Foundation for Technological Innovation (FIT) will fund the development and launch of a second plant monitoring system intended for larger fields and glasshouse installations.
Despite our strong reliance on plants, farmers only achieve about 40% of the theoretical maximum yield and lose 60% of crops before harvest to pests, weeds and diseases. To reduce this waste, Vivent’s technology PhytlSigns taps into plant signalling networks to monitor crop health in real-time. Using machine learning models, PhytlSigns decodes the complex plant signals and provides early warnings of a wide range of crop stressors, well before visual symptoms. Growers can hence adjust growing conditions, such as temperature, humidity, irrigation or fertiliser recipes. Thanks to the early and precise alerts, pests and diseases can be treated with environmentally preferable crop protection.
Having started commercialisation in 2020, Vivent mainly targets growers of high value crops like greenhouse tomatoes, peppers or strawberries or permanent crops like apples, apricots, nut trees, cannabis and vines. The company also works with plant scientists in both academia and commercial organisations that are agrochemical producers, plant breeders and seed producers. Using PhytlSigns, agrochemical providers can test products such as environmentally friendly bio-stimulants, breeders can determine which plant varieties have desirable traits and seed producers optimise growing conditions to maximise yields of high-quality seeds and seedlings. Current clients of Vivent include leading greenhouse growers in Switzerland, France, the Netherlands and the USA, as well as leading indoor or vertical farms.
Since its creation in 2012, Vivent has received numerous awards, including SiTech4Good, the TopSector Innovation Award and the Greentech Innovation Award. Since January 2022, the company is also a certified B-Corporation. Overall, the team has raised seed financing of nearly 4 Million Swiss Francs from lead investors Astanor Ventures (Belgium) and ePlant Inc (USA), and the FIT Tech Growth loan comes in addition to the latest 1.9 Million raised in October 2021.
Thanks to the 500’000 Swiss Francs from the Tech Growth loan, Vivent plans on finalising and launching PhytlSigns Scout, a smaller, cheaper and more convenient plant monitoring system especially intended for larger fields and glasshouse installations. Prototypes for PhytlSigns Scout are scheduled for the first half of 2022, in order to start commercialization later this year. To support its scaling-up, the startup also anticipates a Series A financing round in 2023.