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Yamaha looking to invest in vertical farming companies

Yamaha’s agricultural technology investments leader says he is observing the vertical farming market with a view to backing startups in the sector. (See video below.)

In a wide-ranging interview with Robotics and Automation News, Nolan Paul, partner, global agricultural technology lead at Yamaha Motor Ventures & Laboratory Silicon Valley, says he finds vertical farming

“Vertical farming is one of those technologies which has the ability to transform the way food is grown and consumed,” says Paul.

“It’s very capital-intensive, but it’s something that – if successful and somebody is able to get that model to work – I think can be a big game changer for sure.

“It’s an area that we’ve focused on. We haven’t found something yet to invest in, but there’s a lot of really smart people doing amazing things, so it’s certainly on our radar.”

Yamaha is diversified industrial company, employing more than 50,000 people worldwide. The group includes a robotics business, building and supplying industrial robotic arms as well as developing experimental technologies, such as a the humanoid motorcycle rider. Yamaha is best known as a motor cycle manufacturer.

Paul also provided more insight into Yamaha’s decision to invest in agtech startup Advanced Farm Technologies, which has developed a robotic strawberry picker.

“With Advanced Farm Technologies, in this sector, development times take longer, so it’s really important to find teams that have experience, and this team does – they’ve taken a startup to acquisition before,” says Paul.

“Advanced Farm Tech has moved so quickly, their ability to be very lean, is really what I think we need to be successful in this space.

“And the team has a very complementary set of skills, both from a technology standpoint, the technical side, as well as on the business side.”

YMVSV has a fund of approximately $100 million for this type of investment, and it led the recent investment in Advanced Farm Technologies, in which the startup raised about $7.5 million.