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Nov. 16, 2018
Agri Info Design, Ltd.
Agriculture, forestry and fisheries Fund corporation for Innovation, Value-chain and Expansion Japan
Chiba Dojo Drone Fund I Investment Limited Partnership
Chiba Dojo Drone Fund II Investment Limited Partnership
DG Incubation, Inc.
D2 Garage, Inc.
Sumitomo Corporation

New shares issued through third-party allocation by agricultural ICT startup Agri Info Design:Providing driving assistance apps and automatic steering (driving) devices for agricultural machinery

Agri Info Design, Ltd. (hereinafter, “Agri Info Design”) has issued new shares by third-party allocation, with the Agriculture, forestry and fisheries Fund corporation for Innovation, Value-chain and Expansion Japan, Chiba Dojo Drone Fund I Investment Limited Partnership, Chiba Dojo Drone Fund II Investment Limited Partnership, DG Incubation, Inc., D2 Garage, Inc., and Sumitomo Corporation investing a total of 200 million yen.

Agri Info Design is involved in the research and development as well as the offering of expertise in the use of information and communication technology in agriculture and the automation and informatization of agricultural machinery. It has developed, distributed and sold apps that assist in the driving of tractors and other machinery.

Agri Info Design will start the manufacturing and sales of a GNSS  device and automatic steering equipment (collectively referred to as “straight-line and automatic steering device”) that is compatible with these driving assistance apps. The device is to be mounted on existing tractors to assist with straight-line driving by identifying and displaying the location and orientation of the tractor and by automatic steering. This enables tractors to be driven in evenly spaced straight lines, even in large fields without guidance marks, thus improving efficiency and reducing the workload. Additionally, it is possible to prevent any waste or unevenness in the spraying of fertilizers or agricultural chemicals due to redundant spraying or omissions, thus reducing material costs.

With this funding, Agri Info Design aims to step up its manufacturing and sales structures, as well as to promote the widespread use of the device. In the future, Agri Info Design aims to enable more high-precision operation by coordination with attachments that are connected to tractors to apply fertilizer, sow or spray chemicals. Another goal is to expand into the global market.

The Agriculture, forestry and fisheries Fund corporation for Innovation, Value-chain and Expansion Japan will contribute to the spread of high-precision agriculture through the use of pioneering ICT, the spread of low-cost “straight-line and automated steering devices,” and the reduction of workloads and/or material costs for farmers through its investment in Agri Info Design, which is authorized by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry as a plan for business entry based on the Agricultural Competitiveness Enhancement Support Act. It will also support domestic agricultural producers in gaining global competitiveness as they adopt useful findings from intelligent agriculture to achieve better productivity and efficiency.

Chiba Dojo Drone Fund I Investment Limited Partnership and Chiba Dojo Drone Fund II Investment Limited Partnership (“Drone Fund”) invest in startups working with drones on land, in the sea, and in the air, to realize a society in which drones are common. Japan faces various risks including a decline in the working-age population, climate change and large-scale disasters. Under these circumstances, it is imperative to automatize the agricultural sector to reduce the workload of farm workers. With their price advantage, products by Agri Info Design have the potential to capture the global market in the agricultural sector. Drone Fund will actively provide support for data utilization or promotional activities going forward.

DG Incubation, Inc. (subsidiary of Digital Garage) and D2 Garage, Inc. (joint venture by Digital Garage and the Hokkaido Shimbun) will support the spread of the high-precision agriculture that Agri Info Design aims to achieve. They will do this by promotion through media, utilizing the resources of the Digital Garage Group and the Hokkaido Shimbun.

The collaboration between the Sumitomo Corporation Group and Agri Info Design is the third of a series of projects in advanced agricultural technology for wet-rice farming, following the investment in Nileworks Inc., which develops and manufactures drones for agriculture, and the business alliance with Internet Initiative Japan Inc., which is involved in ICT communication for agriculture including water level sensors. The Sumitomo Corporation Group is engaged in agriculture-related businesses in 44 countries around the world, such as in the areas of fertilizers, agricultural chemicals, agricultural machinery and food. The Group is committed to contributing to industrial development around the world in response to changes in social needs through continued investment in companies that possess innovative technology.


■Images from the demonstration experiments for the tractor driving assistance app
Product 1. AgriBus-NAVI, the driving assistance app (being distributed and on sale)
Designed to be installed on smartphones or other devices. The current location of the tractor and the reference lines are displayed on the screen, and the driver can check for redundancies by observing the trajectory displayed on a tablet device. This helps drive the tractor in a straight line in the fields.

  

 

Product 2. AgriBus-G+, the GNSS device (under development)
A box with communication features that has GNSS and a 3G wireless module. Low-priced device with various uses. Location information with higher precision can be obtained when used in combination with Product 1, AgriBus-NAVI. 

 

 Product 3. AgriBus-AutoSteer, the automatic steering device (under development) 
This device uses an electric motor for steering, and by connecting to Product 2, AgriBus-G+, the driver can operate the tractor in a straight line without having to steer it. It will be easier to grasp the result of the work and the condition of the attachment, thus reducing the workload for the driver. Also, it will enable farmers with little experience to drive tractors in straight lines that are evenly spaced, even in large fields. 

 

 

Images from testing for automatic steering, following the designated trajectory.

 

 

 

■Overview of Agri Info Design and the investing companies and funds 

Agri Info Design, Ltd. 
Location : 40-1-6 Nishi Hachijo Minami, Obihiro, Hokkaido
Established : April 2014 
CEO : Yasuyuki Hamada 
Business description : Provides sophisticated and low-cost agricultural production technology, including apps that assist in the driving of tractors and other agricultural machinery, as well as high-precision GNSS devices and automatic steering devices, using GNSS and communication control technology 
URL : http://agri-info-design.com/

 

 

Agriculture, forestry and fisheries Fund corporation for Innovation, Value-chain and Expansion Japan 
Location : PMO Hanzomon 5F, 2-1 Kojimachi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 
Established : November 2013
President : Yasuhiro Mitsumasu
Business description : Supports the growth and industrialization of agriculture, forestry and fisheries by investment or other measures for initiatives for the diversification of the agricultural industry, business restructuring or entry into industries related to agriculture, and businesses related to the streamlining of distribution for food and other products
URL : http://www.a-five-j.co.jp/

 

   
Chiba Dojo Drone Fund I Investment Limited Partnership
Location : Shiba Koen Annex 6F, 3-1-8 Shiba Koen, Minato-ku, Tokyo 
Established : June 2017
General Partner : Kotaro Chiba
Business description : The Drone Fund is an investment fund that invests in domestic and international drone startups engaged in everything from hardware and software to services, to realize a society in which drones are common, or an air-mobility society.
URL : http://dronefund.vc/

 

 

Chiba Dojo Drone Fund II Investment Limited Partnership
Location : Shiba Koen Annex 6F, 3-1-8 Shiba Koen, Minato-ku, Tokyo 
Established : July 2017
General Partner : Kotaro Chiba
Business description : The Drone Fund is an investment fund that invests in domestic and international drone startups engaged in everything from hardware and software to services, to realize a society in which drones are common, or an air-mobility society. 
URL : http://dronefund.vc/

 

 

 
DG Incubation, Inc. 
Location : Digital Gate Building, 3-5-7 Ebisu Minami, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
Established : June 2009
President : Kaoru Hayashi
Business description : Investment in startups and services to support their business development
URL : https://www.dgincubation.co.jp/

 

 

D2 Garage, Inc.
Location : Sapporo Fukoku Seimei Building 3F, 1-2-3 Kita Yonjo Higashi, Chuo-ku, Sapporo
Established : August 2018
President : Tomoya Sasaki
Business description : Investment in startups in Hokkaido and development of their businesses
URL : https://onlab-hokkaido.jp/ 

 

 

Sumitomo Corporation
Location : Otemachi Place East Tower, 3-2 Otemachi 2-Chome, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
Established : December 1919
President and CEO : Masayuki Hyodo
Business description :  Sumitomo Corporation capitalizes on its integrated corporate strength to engage in diverse business activities, including domestic sales, export and import, and trilateral deals for various products and services, as well as business investment both domestically and internationally, based on its global network (business sites in 22 locations in Japan and 109 locations in 65 countries) and the trust built between companies in various industrial sectors as well as consumers. 
URL : https://www.sumitomocorp.com/ja/jp

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