Oct. 11, 2017
Nileworks Inc. will raise a total of 800 million yen by private placement of new shares to the Innovation Network Corporation of Japan, Sumitomo Chemical Co., Ltd., Kumiai Chemical Industry Co., Ltd., Sumitomo Corporation, the National Federation of Agricultural Co-operative Associations, and The Norinchukin Bank (hereinafter, “investor companies and associations”)
Pursuing its vision, “Precision Agriculture from the Air,” Nileworks is working to develop an agricultural business of providing rice growers with agricultural drones and cloud services for diagnosis of crop health and growth.
Nileworks has successfully developed the world’s first fully automated drone flight technology with centimeter-level precision. Currently, the company is developing a new precision agriculture system that flies drones equipped with this technology at point-blank range of 30cm above crops to diagnose in real time the health and growth of individual rice stalks and, based on these diagnoses, spray the optimal amounts of fertilizers and agrochemicals with precision of stalk by stalk, not just largely limiting spray drift.
Demand for grain is expected to continue rising as the global population increases, and boosting food production by enhancing agricultural productivity has become a pressing global issue. “Precision Agriculture from the Air” is aimed at substantially reducing the labor required in agriculture and dramatically improving the yield and quality of agricultural produce.
Using the capital raised by this private placement, Nileworks will accelerate technological development to achieve “Precision Agriculture from the Air,” improving the safety of its automation technology and refining its crop health and growth diagnostic technology. By closely collaborating with its investor companies and associations, Nileworks will work to apply its technology to a greater number of crops and varieties, roll it out beyond Japan to the rest of the world, and thereby aim to become a leader in precision agriculture.
Innovation Network Corporation of Japan is investing in Nileworks to support the spread of innovative ICT-driven precision agriculture and thus improve the productivity and boost the international competitiveness of Japanese agriculture, as well as to contribute to the creation of a new industry by merging ICT and agriculture to pursue collaboration and open innovation across industry boundaries.
Sumitomo Chemical Co., Ltd. will seek to achieve significant labor saving and greater efficiency in agriculture and bring about higher yields and better quality of agricultural produce by integrating Nileworks’s and its outstanding technologies and expertise. The company will further promote its “Total Solution Provider” business that helps to enhance the competitiveness of farm business as well as its precision agriculture initiatives.
Kumiai Chemical Industry Co., Ltd. has undertaken various initiatives for the development and worldwide promotion of safe and effective agrochemicals since it introduced the first domestically developed agrochemical to the Japanese market. As a part of its initiative for “Smart Agriculture”, Kumiai also entered into a business partnership agreement with Nileworks, the purpose of which includes joint studies leveraged by the technologies owned by the both companies, and will continuously offer innovative agricultural practices to its customers.
Sumitomo Corporation is aiming to increase the number of new farmers by promoting labor-saving approaches and to invigorate agriculture, and as an integrated trading company will accelerate development, mass production and dissemination by backing Nileworks, a firm with innovative technology, and will support the prompt commercialization of “Precision Agriculture from the Air” using dedicated high-precision agricultural drones.
National Federation of Agricultural Co-operative Associations will collaborate with Nileworks to popularize use of the latter’s drones, which are capable of completely automated flight with extremely little drift while spraying agrochemicals, at agricultural production sites and to help lower labor needs and reduce production costs in hilly and mountainous areas that have heretofore required significant labor for weeding, pest control and cultivation management.
The Norinchukin Bank is aiming to reduce labor load in hilly and mountainous areas and cut production cost by using the drones Nileworks developed. This investment utilized the Food & Agri (F&A) Investment Facility, designed to provide risk money to the agriculture, fishery and forestry industries, to improve their productivity and international competitiveness.