Creating a buzz in agritech

When it comes to making a buzz in the agritech sector, Sprout Alumni BuzzTech (formerly Bee’z Thingz) know a thing or two.They’ve recently secured $305,000 of investment to help fund product trials of their hive sensors and software.

This Investment has enabled BuzzTech to begin actively working with customers through the first round of product trials, taking place over the winter months, a critical time period for colony safety and health.

BuzzTech are based in Auckland and is founded by beekeeper and current CEO Julian McCurdy.

Programme Manager James Bell-Booth said the selection committee liked how Julian had customer or end user experience as a beekeeper, experience in IT, a team with a complementary skillset and he’d developed a strong vision for the company.

We asked Julian how the Sprout programme helped BuzzTech and he said “When we started the Sprout programme we had developed a proof of concept sensor and a crude web application for monitoring various parts of hive health and performance. Through Sprout we were taught what is necessary to achieve successful commercialisation, including governance. James McCarthy, former CEO and founder of successful technology company Spidertracks has joined the board alongside Karl Gradon, CEO of NZ Manuka Group, who has stepped in as Chair. This alongside the capital we’ve raised equips us well to take the business to the next level.”

A recent study completed by Lincoln University released a statement saying New Zealand agriculture stands to lose between $295 million and $728m annually if the local honeybee population continues to decline. New Zealand’s lost most of its wild bees to varroa mite, and cultivated bees are becoming resistant to varroa pesticides. However, in a recent bee loss survey by Apiculture NZ it showed bee populations were healthy.

With nearly 700,000 hives in New Zealand, up from 300,000 15 years ago and close to 7000 beekeepers in New Zealand with continued growth year on year, our annual hive losses are only around 10% compared to 17% and higher in other countries. BuzzTech are well placed with their hive health sensing software to greatly help beekeepers reduce hive losses.

“BuzzTech has a great product that addresses a very real market need and this, coupled with their ability to raise capital, listen to their clients, and establish strong governance, has set the company in the right direction. We look forward to seeing what this powerful community dedicated to the wellbeing of New Zealand bees is able to achieve,” says Business Strategy Advisor Stu Bradbury.

You can connect with BuzzTech via Twitter or Facebook or check out this interview with them on Seven Sharp.