Saturday, September 23, 2023

Agtech startup Lleaf raises $3.5 million to grow better plants

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Sydney-based agtech startup Lleaf has raised $3.5 million in a bridging round for its light-emitting plastics for indoor farming.

The round was led by Danish investment firms ALFA Ventures and 2 Degrees, with additional support from the University of New South Wales and deep tech hub Cicada Innovations, where Lleaf is based.

2 degrees is the climate-focused private investment vehicle of Mikkel Bülow-Lehnsby, co-founder and chairman of NREP, a leading European urban development company.

Industrial Chemists Dr. Alexander Suriyadi and Dr. Alexander Falber founded Lleaf at the University of NSW in 2016, and spent the next five years developing a range of patented light absorbing and emitting plastics that improve the quality of both sunlight and artificial light for greenhouse and indoor cultivation. plants, increasing crop yield by about 20% on average.

The luminescent dyes used in the plastic roof of greenhouses absorb light from one color and emit it in another. That light spectrum can be adapted for specific applications such as increasing photosynthesis or simulating seasonal changes for flowering and fruiting.

Lleaf, Chris Wilkins

Clive Eley from investor 2 Degrees with Lleaf’s Chris Wilkins

Lleaf – the name is an acronym for luminescent light emitting agricultural film – shipped its first product in February this year and sold out in June, now raising money ahead of plans for a Series A in October.

The new capital is partly due to a New Scientist article on Lleaf published earlier this year that caught the attention of the two climate-focused Danish investment entities.

Chris Wilkins, Lleaf’s director of commercialization, said it was easy to see the strategic value of opening a bridge to the Danes so the startup could focus on accelerating sales and developing new products.

“From the first conversations it was clear we were on the same page, they understood the technology at a scientific level and shared our vision of the potential to significantly increase food production in a sustainable way,” he said.

“The Danes have long been leaders in renewable and sustainable technology, so it’s no big surprise that they actively support the green solutions of tomorrow. In addition to cash, ALFA Ventures and 2 Degrees bring a lot of experience in innovating in the built environment.

“Cicada Innovations is a pillar of the Australian startup ecosystem. They have been instrumental in incubating our business, and UNSW is known for their leadership in fostering entrepreneurship in academia and has spawned some of Australia’s best startups. It’s really great to have had their support from day one and into the future.”

Clive Eley of 2 Degrees from Copenhagen said: “Lleaf’s technology has huge sustainability potential as it enables more efficient use of farmland, reducing the overall human impact on the environment”


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