About painless mini worms and smart weed killers

Ecorobotix - a company that develops high-precision machines that spray herbicides or fertilisers on fields with pinpoint accuracy and therefore extremely economically. And Nagi Bioscience - a start-up that enables drug testing on painless mini-worms instead of mice or monkeys. These are the latest investments of the Swisscanto Growth Fund.

The latest investments of the Swisscanto Growth Fund are: Ecorobotix and Nagi Bioscience (Pictures: Ecorobotix SA, Nagi Bioscience).

Ecorobotix received around CHF 46 million in a financing round last year. Swisscanto's growth fund also participated in this. The new capital will enable Ecorobotix to realise growth potential in new markets, particularly in North and South America, to expand its product range and to build on its existing commercial success in Europe.

The Certified B Corporation®, based in French-speaking Switzerland, is active in the AgTech (Agricultural Technology) sector. It has developed an intelligent precision sprayer called "ARA", which uses artificial intelligence to distinguish between crops and weeds, killing the latter with pinpoint accuracy and a minimum of herbicide. Insecticides and fertilisers can also be applied with the same precision and economy.

A spraying system from Ecorobotix in use in French-speaking Switzerland (picture: Ecorobotix SA)

Parallel to cultivating fields, ARA collects data on product quantities applied in individual areas of the field. At the same time, the images taken during application can be analysed with the aim of continuously improving results.

According to Ecorobotix, the ARA system reduces the use of herbicides, pesticides, growth treatments and liquid fertilisers by 70 to 95 percent. Crop yields can be increased by at least five per cent and CO2 emissions significantly reduced.

Analysing the data after plant treatment enables yield increases (picture: Ecorobotix SA)

Mini worms instead of vertebrates

Nagi Bioscience is also a start-up based in French-speaking Switzerland, near Lausanne. The Swisscanto Growth Fund participated as a co-lead investor in a CHF 12.4 million financing round last September. Zürcher Kantonalbank has been on board as an investor since the founding phase in 2019.

According to Nagi Bioscience, the capital opens the door to new markets and partnerships to further change the current paradigm of biological testing.

Dozens of tests can be carried out with one experiment (picture: Nagi Bioscience)

The biotech company uses innovative laboratory equipment to make tests on vertebrates obsolete in many cases. Instead, novel drugs are tested on pain-insensitive mini threadworms. Dozens of tests can be carried out with one experiment. Analysing and reporting can be done entirely digitally.

Tests are carried out on pain-insensitive mini threadworms (picture: Nagi Bioscience)

About the Swisscanto Growth Fund

The Swisscanto Growth Fund has so far invested in 18 promising Swiss and international growth companies. Three of them have achieved a successful exit.

Swisscanto (CH) Private Equity Switzerland Growth I KmGK, or Swisscanto Growth Fund for short, invests in unlisted growth companies. The focus lies on companies with innovative technologies and business models in the areas of information and data services, industry and health. It is envisaged that around 70 to 80 percent of investments will be made within Switzerland. This makes the Swisscanto Growth Fund one of the first investment vehicles under the Swiss Collective Investment Schemes Act (CISA) to concentrate primarily on financing Swiss growth companies in the expansion phase.

The fund is aimed exclusively at qualified investors with a medium to long-term investment horizon and a suitability for illiquid investments. The target return is 10 to 12 percent per year. The subscription period for the fund is concluded with a total volume of CHF 180 million. Follow-up programmes are being planned. Further information on Zürcher Kantonalbank’s current private equity offering can be found here.


Legal notices: This information is intended exclusively for qualified investors according to CISA, is for information and advertising purposes and does not constitute an offer or a recommendation to acquire, hold or sell financial instruments or to purchase products or services. The subscription period has expired, meaning that this limited partnership is not open to subscription for collective capital investments.