January 18, 2022
Aigen, a startup developing a scalable solar-powered robotics platform for agriculture and soil regeneration, has announced raising $4 million in a seed round, led by NEA with participation from AgFunder, Global Founders Capital, and ReGen Ventures. The company said it will open the doors of a new lab space in Kirkland, Wash., as well as ramp up in 2022 to launch their platform to help regenerate soil at a planetary scale.
The company is building an autonomous, solar-powered robotics platform that manages plants without the chemical inputs that can undermine soil’s carbon storage potential. By bringing affordable alternatives to conventional practice, Aigen said its platform will regenerate soil health and help farmers deal with manual labor shortages, as well as give them data, analysis and take action without using diesel or pesticides.
“Aigen’s technology leverages best-in-class AI and robotics to provide an elegant solution to several of humanity’s biggest problems,” said Andrew Schoen, partner at NEA. “Their product unlock’s nature’s superpower to sequester substantial amounts of atmospheric carbon at planetary scale.”
The company said Aigen means “farmer’s right to own” in old German, and is fitting for a company that respects farmers’ right to their land, data and product. In addition, studies have shown that 60 to 75% of soil carbon has been lost in lands used for agriculture, which the company aims to reverse.
“Few industries have the potential to go carbon negative,” said Rich Wurden, co-founder of Aigen. “Agriculture is one of them, with soils that currently store three times more carbon than the entire atmosphere.” Wurden, who has relatives that work at Wurden Farms in Minnesota, is an engineer who spent 12 years designing and launching multiple electric vehicle platforms, including electric boats to Tesla vehicles. In 2020, he decided to leave his career in transportation to help start Aigen.
The company said it has a team of agricultural professionals and technical experts from Tesla, Boeing, Google, SpaceX and Siemens. “As a father of two young kids, this is so rewarding because we’re building a better future for them,” said Kenny Lee, Aigen co-founder and an MIT graduate. The two co-founders said they met in a Slack community called Work on Climate.
“Rich and Kenny offer a unique combination of hardware, software, and agriculture expertise,” said Henry Magun, an associate at NEA. “In a very short period of time they developed a novel situation that is easy to deploy, convenient to manage and most of all, helpful to farmers.”
For more details on the company, visit the Aigen website here.