WNT Ventures Fund 3 makes first investment into Nelson-based climate change tech
Updated: Jun 21, 2022
WNT Ventures – a $10 million pre-seed and seed stage venture capital fund today announces an investment into the Nelson-based, artificial intelligence (AI) company, CarbonCrop.
CarbonCrop is a spin out of the Nelson Artificial Intelligence Institute (NAI) and has developed AI-enabled technology that streamlines access to forest carbon credit markets for landowners, so they can get paid for the right trees in the right places. This delivers stronger farm economics, less carbon in the atmosphere heating up the planet, and improved climate resilience and biodiversity of our landscapes.
Landowners using CarbonCrop’s solution enjoy a low friction process that saves them time, effort, and money, and lets them understand the scale of their carbon forestry opportunity without any up-front cost or commitment. This is achieved through machine learning and remote sensing technology to monitor and optimize forest carbon stocks and restoration options, packaged as a solution with a clear and simple interface.
CarbonCrop’s solution is available now, and is free to engage with. Landowners can visit carboncrop.nz for a free, customized analysis and recommendation around how to maximise their complete carbon forestry opportunity - both existing and potential. Once they’ve decided on the approach that best suits their situation, CarbonCrop works with them to execute the project, and handles all the evidence gathering, registration paperwork, and compliance assurance - all for no up-front cost. When the project is established, CarbonCrop provides ongoing support with monitoring and reporting, and receives a small percentage of the carbon credits for the project.
Nick Butcher, founding CEO of CarbonCrop said
“We’re focussed on making it as easy as possible for New Zealand’s farmers and other landowners to get paid to create and restore the right kind of forest on the right land. There are thousands of farmers who could have significant entitlements right now, but for them to find out their options used to mean significant up front effort and cost… with no guarantee of anything at the end. We provide all the information they need in a clear and simple form, and eliminate the up front costs, so landowners are not paying for analysis only to find out they don’t qualify. Once they know what they want to do, we help make it happen. CarbonCrop doesn’t get paid until the landowner does, so we’re all pursuing a shared goal.”
Additionally, he also stated that
“What many landowners don’t realise is that there’s a rapidly closing window of opportunity to access credits for carbon sequestered since 2018 - this can be worth thousands of dollars per hectare, and it will all be lost for good for any registrations not processed by the end-2022 deadline. Registration prep and processing takes significant time, so the clock is very much ticking. Our solution makes it simple and free for them to explore their options, and there’s no obligation - so why wait and risk it?”
In addition to helping landowners, CarbonCrop will deliver downstream benefits to other providers in the sector by increasing the number and diversity of reforestation projects and demand for associated forestry services. This will be particularly true for small-block mixed native/agroforestry projects on farms which help boost climate-change resilience of food production.
CarbonCrop is starting with the NZ forest carbon market, which is ideally suited for the product launch having a stable regulatory framework, a large volume of unrealised potential, and a huge need. The existing New Zealand forest carbon market results in the issue of approximately NZ$400M in carbon credits per annum - a significant fraction of the global market due to NZ’s leadership in this space. CarbonCrop’s solution is ideally suited to existing exotic and native forest, with a particular emphasis on regenerating native bush.
Fighting climate change and biodiversity loss is an international endeavour, and once CarbonCrop’s solution is rolled out to New Zealand landowners they’ll expand into overseas markets.
“New Zealand is at the forefront of market innovation, but there’s a massive global opportunity and need, and a huge amount of potential and existing forest that needs support. New Zealand’s robust approach and mature solution means there’s significant international interest in learning from our systems”
On CarbonCrop’s goals and approach, Nick said
“Ultimately, we want the same things as most people: a rich, productive, resilient, and biodiverse ecosystem that strikes the right balance between forest restoration and agriculture, and effectively reduces climate change. These aren’t new ideas, we’re just trying to make it easier to get it done, and especially to make sure mixed exotic and native forests can get their full entitlements, and farmers get their fair share”.
WNT Ventures has provided over $1.5 million of funding to CarbonCrop in this round, which includes accessing Repayable Grant funding of $750,000 via Callaghan Innovation as part of the Technology Incubator programme which WNT has been a participant of since 2014.
Carl Jones, Managing Partner of WNT Ventures stated
“we’ve been impressed by the team at NAI and CarbonCrop and we can see an opportunity to roll CarbonCrop technology out on a global stage where there are some, but very few, players in what is a large, and growing market."
CarbonCrop will be the first investment in WNT Ventures recently raised third fund with commitment of $10 million to date. The fund is still open for a short period for new wholesale investors.
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About Nelson Artificial Intelligence Institute
Nelson AI is an applied research institute with the mission of applying artificial intelligence to globally relevant problems in environmental sustainability. Based in Nelson, New Zealand, and founded in 2018, Nelson AI develops AI technology both in-house and with partners.
CarbonCrop is a Carbon Forestry solutions provider based in Nelson, New Zealand. Founded in 2020, CarbonCrop is rapidly growing, and is on a mission to make it easy for landowners to get paid to protect and restore forests by giving them simple access to carbon markets. This delivers stronger farm economics, less carbon in the atmosphere heating up the planet, and improved climate resilience and biodiversity of our landscapes.
About WNT Ventures
WNT Ventures is a pre-seed and seed stage venture capital fund and incubator. WNT invests into pre-revenue, deep-tech companies which are science-backed with global potential. WNT has been in operation since 2014 and has recently had an extension until 2027 as part of the Callaghan Innovation Technology Incubator programme.