NB Aerial Imaging Company Partners With Mccain Foods
June 27th, 2014
Resson Aerospace, a Fredericton company that uses aerial imaging to improve farm productivity, has signed a multi-year memorandum of understanding with Canada’s largest food producer aimed at improving potato production.
The company unveiled its deal with McCain Foods Ltd. at an event Monday near Fredericton, at which Premier David Alward announced the province would invest $5 million in a research and development project with McCain.
The other startups involved in the project include Eigen Innovations, Solanum Genomics, Envirem Organics and Hyton Innovation.
Resson was co-founded by Peter Goggin and Rishin Behl in 2013 while they were studying at the University of New Brunswick. They came up with an idea to use aerial drones as surveillance mechanisms and develop software that can analyze the data they collect. The first application they came up with was an agricultural product, gathering and analyzing a range of data that can improve crop production.
Plants, like animals, undergo metabolic changes, including changes in their temperature, when they contract diseases. Resson’s system — which it calls the Resson Agricultural Management and Analytics System — detects these changes and reports it to the farm operator before the disease spreads. That means the operators can quickly address the problem in a contained area.
Tests have shown that the system decreased the chemical used in farming and increases crop yields.
“Our software is the brain behind the platform,” said Goggin in an interview. “Any imaging platform can capture images. Our software processes the information and generates the report.”
The company has just completed the Launch36 accelerator program and has been in talks with three major food producers. In April, it signed a three-year memorandum of understanding with McCain Foods to apply the management and analytics system to potato crops. The memorandum calls for a business relationship covering several years that is worth seven figures. It will produce $280,000 in revenue for Resson this year.
In his presentation at the Launch36 graduation last week, Goggin said the company continues to work with major agricultural companies involved in such crops as wheat and canola. There are other crops and industries that Resson hopes to focus on in the future.
“We’re working with McCain, working to tailor the system for potato production,” he said.
“Different crops react differently and need to be calibrated individually. But once it is calibrated, it can be used by anyone.”
It’s rare for a startup so early in its development to be working with such a large customer, and that may be why Resson Aerospace has already been able to raise about $600,000 in equity funding. Goggin said during his Launch36 pitch that the company is working on a funding round totalling $2.1 million — the largest target ever revealed in a Launch36 graduation pitch.
Goggin said one thing he and Behr learned going through the accelerator was to aim high.
“The biggest thing limiting a lot of Atlantic Canadian companies is a restrictive mindset. Launch36 taught us to go after the big fish and be a big fish. That mindset is critical.”