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B.C. robotics firm secures $17.5M to revolutionize mushroom industry

Salmon Arm’s TechBrew Robotics rebranding to 4AG Robotics, developing robo-mushroom picker

A Salmon Arm robotics company is rebranding as it makes plans to revolutionize the mushroom industry.

Founded in 1999, in recent years TechBrew Robotics has seen some success in garnering investment towards developing an autonomous, vision-guided mushroom harvesting robot. To date, the company has completed proof of concept deployments on two farms, achieving the goal of a 95 per cent pick rate in both instances.

The company is now ready to take things to the next level.

In a Nov. 15, 2023 media release, the company announced it had secured $17.5 million in equity financing to accelerate the development and deployment of cutting-edge robotic solutions for mushroom harvesting.

The company said it is also rebranding, changing its name to 4AG Robotics for the next stage of its commercial journey.

“We believe that we can build a globally successful robotics company, based right here in Salmon Arm, and are eager to start growing our team,” said 4AG Robotics’ Sean O’ Connor, who took over as TechBrew’s CEO in October from founder and longtime CEO Mike Boudreau, who remains the company’s president. “We’re excited about the quality of this investment group and the people we can lean on in these critical years ahead.”

The company will use the funding to address what it calls the most critical challenge in the mushroom industry – the intensive labour required to harvest mushrooms.

“Their delicate nature, even more fragile than tomatoes, poses a formidable challenge for automation when it comes to tasks such as picking, trimming and packing,” said 4AG. “The mushroom sector, managed by innovative farmers, is in urgent need of automated solutions, given the complex logistical and labour challenges posed by a highly perishable product.

“4AG Robotics is dedicated to providing this much-needed transformative solution, and has secured purchase orders with farms in Canada and Europe.”

Read more: Mushroom-picking robot developed in Salmon Arm receives government backing

Read more: Salmon Arm innovator’s robotics win over Okanagan Angels investors

The financing is coming from BDC Capital’s Industrial Innovation Venture Fund and InBC Investment Corp. (InBC), with participation from Emmertech, Jim Richardson Family Office, Lex Capital, and a series of angel investors from across Canada, reads the release. Joseph Regan, managing partner with Industrial Innovation Venture Fund at BDC Capital, shared BDC Capital’s extreme confidence in 4AG Robotics’ ability to lead the mushroom harvesting industry globally.

“Their technology is helping grow mushrooms in a more efficient and sustainable manner, all while tackling the industry’s ongoing labour challenges,” said Regan. “We’re excited for this market-driven solution to a large global problem.”

As the company embarks on this new phase, O’Connor said it remains dedicated to pioneering automation in agriculture.

“We believe that in the years to come, 4AG Robotics can help indoor agriculture thrive across a variety of crops, and reduce the amount of produce we ship around the world on a daily basis.” said O’Connor. “However, our core focus right now is helping mushroom farms around the world increase their profitability, and harness our robots to reduce the environmental impact of farming.”

4AG Robotics is particularly keen to speak with more mushroom farms open to its robotic offerings, as well as ambitious people looking to join the company and “help reinvent the world of mushroom farming with robotics.” For more information, visit techbrewrobotics.com or email info@4ag.ai.

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