Oregon BEST, an environmental technology development company, has invested $150,000 into HoneyComb Corporation, the precision agriculture and forestry technology company, alongside Portland Development Commission.
Financing for early stage companies in the sector is limited making this seed capital essential for companies to develop as an investment prospect in the future, according to Ken Vaughn, director of commercialisation programmes at Oregon BEST.
“Generally speaking, there is not enough private capital available for early stage companies in this sector,” he told Agri Investor. “Organisations like Oregon BEST play a vital role in helping start-up companies get their technology developed and proven so that downstream investors can have more confidence in making investments.”
Orgeon BEST funds small companies engaged in research and development in collaboration with universities – in this case Oregon State University – focused on clean technology innovation and environmental change.
The investment is in the form of a grant and will go towards the development of HoneyComb’s Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS), or drones, in the agriculture and forestry sectors, a promising area, according to Vaughn.
“The commercial UAS market represents a new market space with strong growth potential in coming years due to the rapid advance of the technology and the new rules from the Federal Aviation Administration opening the skies to commercial applications,” he said. “This is particularly true in Oregon as we have many potential applications in agriculture and forestry, which are the segments that HoneyComb is targeting.”
The technology aims to pinpoint areas of farmland or forestry that need attention in terms of irrigation, fertilizer, tree density and pest infestations. This can help boost yields and decrease the labour costs involved in manual checks.
“As Oregon State University has existing programmes in UAS, forestry and agriculture, this project represents an excellent public/private collaboration that we hope will accelerate the growth of HoneyComb and the UAS industry in Oregon State.”
Portland Development Commission focuses on investing in businesses that could create jobs and capital in the city of Portland.