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World-first technology goes with the grain

(Image Credit: Crover Ltd)

Scottish start-up Crover unveils world-first technology at the TechCrunch Start-up Battlefield 2020.

World-first agricultural technology, designed to reduce waste and save millions of tonnes of grain stock each year, has been unveiled publicly for the first time by UK start-up company Crover.

Every year, around 630 million tonnes of grain is lost globally. Storage containers for wheat and barley can contain many tonnes of produce, which can be stored for many years. However, once in storage it is very difficult to understand what is happening inside a grain store in terms of quality and mass.

Crover has developed a robot that can ‘swim’ through cereals and grains to monitor their condition while they are still in storage. This is a first-of-its-kind robotic grain monitoring solution and enables a greater understanding of the condition of stored grains.

Game-changing technology

The company is developing its technology as part of the European Space Agency Business Incubation Centre United Kingdom (ESA BIC UK) – part of ESA Space Solutions – the world’s largest business incubation programme for space tech start-ups who are using space technology to develop game-changing new products and services.

Managed by the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) in collaboration with ESA, and partly funded by STFC, the University of Leicester and the UK Space Agency, the ESA BIC UK programme helps businesses boost their competitiveness in an increasingly fierce and global marketplace.

Based at STFC’s Higgs Centre for Innovation in Edinburgh, Crover has been developing the robot that can take accurate temperature and moisture measurements as it travels through grain. This data is then transmitted, via satellite communication, to the grain store manager.

Through the ESA BIC UK programme, Crover has also gained access to the advanced 3D printing expertise and capabilities, enabling them to identify and develop the bespoke components required for their design.

Preparing for battle

This ground breaking technology was put to the test yesterday evening as Crover competed against some of the best tech start-ups from across the world, at the TechCrunch Start-up Battlefield 2020. Only 2% of applicants secure a coveted place on the Start-up Battlefield, and Crover is one of only 20 companies hand-picked to gain a place.

It is also the first Scottish company ever and second UK company to be selected. The applicants from across the world connected remotely to pitch live on the virtual TechCrunch Disrupt 2020 stage.

Dr Lorenzo Conti, founder of Crover, said:

This is a significant milestone for us – to make it onto such a global stage while being in the early stages of our venture goes to prove the significance of our technology and business model. We wouldn’t have made it far though (and possibly never got started) without the amazing support of organisations like ESA BIC UK and UKATC.

The opportunity to locate our business at the Higgs Centre for Innovation, and gaining access to the state-of-the art facilities across STFC, and particularly at Daresbury Laboratory, is a fantastic benefit of being part of the ESA BIC UK. The opportunity to work alongside astronomers, engineers, as well as 3D printing and prototyping experts has been invaluable to our business and our mission to invent something that could help change the world for the better.

Part of ESA Space Solutions, with a wide and growing network of successful ESA BICs across Europe, the ESA BIC UK is a UK-wide programme, incorporating the Harwell Campus in Oxfordshire, Sci-Tech Daresbury in the North West, the Royal Observatory in Edinburgh and the new Space Park Leicester, which will open next year.

To date, it has helped 91 start-up companies, of which 74 have graduated from the programme, collectively raising over £74 million in investment.

Tangible business benefits

STFC’s Dr Sue O’Hare, Operations Manager at the ESA BIC UK, said:

Crover is an inspirational example of how a pioneering start-up, with access to the right technologies, skills and business support at the ESA BIC UK, can make such remarkable progress in such a short period of time. The tangible benefits of this technology have the real potential to be significant, which is exactly what the ESA BIC UK set out to achieve.

Understanding the support that start-ups need is our speciality, and I’m really excited to be able to support Crover through its growth and success. Gaining a place at the Start-Up Battlefield is impressive in itself and I suspect this will be just one of a long list of exciting milestones in store for this company.


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