Every minute, Earth loses 30 soccer fields of soil due to extractive farming practices. Beneficial organisms like mycorrhizal fungi are killed off by overgrazing, tillage, monocropping, and synthetic inputs. Meanwhile, sustained droughts and warming air temperatures - driven in part by industrial agriculture - are complicit in driving nutritional declines in plants.
The consequence is that our agricultural sector is pushing the resources they depend on to the limit. Traditional agriculture will accelerate its own decline and regenerative alternatives will struggle to cost-effectively meet demand.
With this in mind, the farming sector must adapt to produce more nutrient-dense food with less arable land and a positive environmental impact. It’s not just an environmental imperative, it is an economic imperative. Yet even if growers wanted to adopt better practices, existing solutions are less effective, more expensive, and difficult to integrate into their operations.
We’ve previously shared our belief that in light of these challenges, it is time to design tools that offer a win-win for environmental and economic returns.
Enter Aigen, the world’s first regenerative autonomous robotics platform powered by the sun, directly. The system’s first application, non-invasive weeding via electrocution, will be competitive with the price of herbicides at scale, enable organic crops that have struggled with invasive weeds, and fill the labor shortage facing the agricultural sector. The robot is small enough to be shipped via UPS or FedEx, operates without dirty diesel fuel, and most importantly, saves farmers time thanks to its autonomous operation.
A key pillar of ReGen’s thesis is that regenerative companies will generate superior returns and create exponential positive impact. These companies will recruit the most ambitious innovators because climate change is the most pressing challenge of our generation. So much so that 94% of millennials want to use their skills to benefit a cause, and Gen Z sees no point in working on anything else. This philosophy is why we are building ReGen in a collaborative fashion, backing platforms like Work on Climate, which is where Aigen’s co-founders first met in 2020.
Since then, the founding team has grown to include experts from companies including Tesla, Boeing, Google, Measure, and C16 Biosciences, which has allowed them to combine their complementary skill sets to build a rugged, low-cost autonomous robot powered by world-class computer vision & AI.
Richard Wurden, the co-founder & CEO, has dedicated his career to discovering low-cost, unique ways to solve engineering problems within companies like Pure Watercraft and Tesla. After ten years in the EV space, Richard has set his sights on a new moonshot - creating small solar-powered robots to turn agricultural soils back into a carbon sink. While his professional experiences have happened outside of farming, Richard developed a reverence for growers through his relatives, who run a sugar beet operation at Wurden Farms in Minnesota.
We foresee a future where Aigen becomes the go-to farm robotics platform - breathing life back into degraded landscapes worldwide. In doing so, its herds of small solar-powered robots will offset Gigatonnes of CO2e while turning agricultural soils back into a nature-based climate solution.
We fundamentally believe that Aigen will restore millions of acres of marginal land, thereby insulating our global supply of nutritious food in the face of climate change and a growing population.
ReGen Ventures is excited to participate in Aigen’s $4M Seed round alongside New Enterprise Associates (NEA), AgFunder, and Global Founders Collective.
Sounds like a winner! Love to know more.