Climate change AI start-up CarbonCrop secures $1.9m in financing and appoints new CEO to accelerate global expansion
Following a $1.5M seed capital raise in 2020, led by WNT Ventures, Carbon Crop recently raised an additional $1.9m ahead of plans to raise Series A funding later this year. The funding round was again led by WNT Ventures Fund 3, and supported by the Impact Enterprise Fund, K1W1 and Icehouse Ventures Climate Fund.
"Over the last year CarbonCrop has demonstrated market demand for a high quality, remote forest carbon assessment solution and succeeded in delivering this at scale. Along with our mission to support innovative technology in NZ, knowing that the team is already on track to direct tens of millions of dollars to landholders restoring native forest is huge. We’re excited to continue the journey with them as they expand internationally."
- Carl Jones, WNT Ventures
New Zealand AI startup CarbonCrop is on a mission to make carbon credits accessible to landholders across Aotearoa and globally, delivering free eligibility assessments underpinned by Artificial Intelligence (AI)-enabled technology.
Launched in June 2021, CarbonCrop has grown rapidly and assessed over 400,000 hectares of land across New Zealand. It’s on track to deliver more than $15 million in carbon credits to landholders in 2023 alone.
CarbonCrop provides high integrity carbon credit assessments using remote sensing and machine learning to analyse forests without the need for expensive site visits or time-consuming manual mapping. Once a customer signs up, its technology helps to date the forest accurately and compile evidence required to register land to the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). This remote approach differentiates CarbonCrop from other forestry providers in New Zealand and lends itself to scaling internationally.
CarbonCrop’s model removes cost barriers to engagement, making carbon credits accessible to a wider range of landholders; instead of charging upfront fees for its services, CarbonCrop receives an ongoing percentage of the carbon credits earned. Since June 2021, over one thousand Kiwis have submitted land for an initial assessment via CarbonCrop. Sites range from small lifestyle blocks with just a few hectares to hill stations with five thousand-plus hectares.
CarbonCrop also welcomes Jo Blundell as CEO to drive its ambitious growth strategy with current CEO and co-founder Nick Butcher stepping into the role of Chief Technology Officer (CTO). Jo brings with her a wealth of experience scaling technology businesses including as Chief Revenue Officer at the recently acquired SaaS software provider, Timely.
“CarbonCrop is a purpose led business with an impressive technology solution bringing a greater level of integrity to carbon credit assessments. I’m excited to lead a team focused on accelerating climate resilience, biodiversity, regeneration and improving land-use economics. We have a big year ahead of us as we prepare for Series A and expansion beyond the New Zealand ETS” says Blundell.
CarbonCrop is particularly passionate about native regeneration which has traditionally been more challenging to register successfully.
Blundell, CEO, explains:
“A criticism of carbon farming is that it incentivises people to plant out huge swathes of productive farmland with monocrop exotic forests, typically pinus radiata, which delivers rapid carbon sequestration but comes at a cost to rural communities and biodiversity.
In contrast, the majority of our customers seek to recognise - and monetise - areas of marginal, unproductive farmland which is already regenerating. Our software excels at mapping native regeneration. To date, eighty percent of forest under contract with CarbonCrop is indigenous forest.”
With the 2022 ETS registration deadline looming, landholders are under pressure to register now or miss out on credits from 2018-2022. Blundell:
"We estimate over $1 billion worth of carbon credits are currently at risk. For a farmer with 30ha of native forest, this could equate to $135k in carbon credits.”
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CarbonCrop is a Carbon Forestry tech provider. Founded in 2020, CarbonCrop is rapidly growing, and is on a mission to make it easy for landowners to get paid to protect and restore forests by giving them simple access to carbon markets. This delivers stronger farm economics, less carbon in the atmosphere heating up the planet, and improved climate resilience and biodiversity of our landscapes.
About WNT Ventures
WNT Ventures is a pre-seed and seed stage venture capital fund and incubator. WNT invests into pre-revenue, deep-tech companies which are science-backed with global potential. WNT has been in operation since 2014 and has recently had an extension until 2027 as part of the Callaghan Innovation Technology Incubator programme.