DOTS has secured seed funding in a round led by Labs/02, a joint venture of OurCrowd and Indian multinational conglomerate Reliance Industries, and the Israeli Innovation Authority
BGN Technologies, the technology transfer company of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU), announced the establishment of DOTS, developer of a new nitrate monitoring system for continuous real time monitoring of nitrate levels in the soil for agricultural use. DOTS has secured seed funding in a round led by Labs/02 incubator, a joint venture of OurCrowd, Israel’s largest investment platform, and Reliance Industries, an Indian multinational conglomerate, and the Israeli Innovation Authority.
“Following the elaborate due diligence of the Labs/02 team, we see this seed round as a vote of confidence from leading investors in our team, technology, and business plans,” said Rafi Levi, CEO of DOTS. “Current methods for measuring soil nitrate levels are cumbersome estimations, highly expensive or labor-intensive, and do not provide affordable continuous real-time indication of the actual concentration of nutrients in the soil. Our new technology, which enables real-time monitoring of soil nitrate levels, can supply farmers with valuable data on nutrient availability for their crops. Our solution enables optimization of fertilizer application thus greatly cutting farmers’ expenses by preventing over-fertilization, as well as substantially reducing water resource pollution.”
Moshe Raines, General Partner at OurCrowd and CEO of Labs/02 said, “We are honored to lead the seed round for DOTS. We have been impressed by the DOTS team, their accomplishments, and unique vision, which eventually will make the world a better place to live in. We believe that DOTS’s breakthrough technology is a game-changer in precision agriculture and will significantly improve the way we are dealing with soil pollution.”
The technology, developed by Prof. Ofer Dahan of the Zuckerberg Institute for Water Research (ZIWR), Prof. Shlomi Arnon of the Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering, and Elad Yeshno, PhD student at ZIWR, all from BGU, relies on an electro-optical nitrate sensor that is based on absorption spectroscopy. The sensor enables continuous, real-time measurement of nitrates in the soil pore-water and is highly resistant to harsh chemical and physical soil conditions. It can detect nitrate concentrations in the range of tens to hundreds of parts per million (ppm), which is the range relevant for growing crops. Its ability to continuously monitor soil nitrate levels produces a highly detailed portrait of the rapidly changing concentrations of nitrate in the soil.
Natural nitrate levels in groundwater are generally very low. However, excess application of fertilizers in agriculture often results in nitrates leaching from the soil into water resources. Increased level of nitrates in water is one of the main reasons for drinking water contamination, causing a worldwide environmental problem.
Shirley Sheffer Hoffman, Senior VP Business Development Climate Tech at BGN Technologies, commented, “We are very proud that what began as a multi-disciplinary collaboration research project at the University a few years ago, has now matured into a promising deep-tech startup company that has successfully raised initial capital and has also received recognition from the Israel Innovation Authority.”
DOTS grew in the Oazis Venture Builder and Accelerator, a unique program matching deep-technology research with experienced business entrepreneurs and bridging the gap between academia and industry with a product-oriented acceleration. Oazis was established at BGU’s entrepreneurship center Yazamut360 and has already grown 11 successful ventures.
About Monitoring Nutrients
Modern agriculture relies on precise water and nutrient levels in the soil. While technologies for monitoring and controlling the soil-water content are well developed, affordable, and commonly used, there are currently no solutions for continuous, real-time monitoring and control of nutrient levels in the soil. Therefore, farmers commonly rely on available “fertilizer usage tables” offered by fertilizer companies, which overdose the soil with fertilizers to avoid and prevent potential crop loss related to nutrient deficiencies. As a result, farmers suffer substantial financial losses due to wasted fertilizers, which eventually leach down to groundwater in the form of nitrate, leading to the pollution of water resources. Nitrate fertilizer sales worldwide are estimated at 200 billion dollars annually and expected to reach 230 billion dollars by 2026. With the current application efficiency, over 80 billion dollars’ worth of fertilizers used turn to waste and groundwater contaminants.
Labs/02 is an early-stage fund and incubator, based in Jerusalem and Beer-Sheva. The incubator’s core mission is to advance cutting-edge technology that will shape the future. Labs/02 invests in outstanding and highly motivated founders, and leads them with a hands-on, mentorship-driven approach: leveraging its global network of investors, mentors, MNCs and venture partners to support them. The incubator’s program is designed with a boot camp feel to help founders jumpstart their companies towards success.
OurCrowd is a global venture investing platform that empowers institutions and individuals to invest and engage in emerging companies. The most active venture investor in Israel, OurCrowd vets and selects companies, invests its capital, and provides its global network with unparalleled access to co-invest and contribute connections, talent and deal flow. OurCrowd builds value for its portfolio companies throughout their lifecycles, providing mentorship, recruiting industry advisors, navigating follow-on rounds, and creating growth opportunities through its network of multinational partnerships.
About Reliance Industries
Reliance is India’s largest private sector company, with a consolidated turnover of INR 539,238 crore ($73.8 billion), cash profit of INR 79,828 crore ($10.9 billion), and net profit of INR 53,739 crore ($7.4 billion) for the year ended March 31, 2021. Reliance’s activities span hydrocarbon exploration and production, petroleum refining and marketing, petrochemicals, retail and digital services. Reliance is the top-most ranked company from India to feature in Fortune’s Global 500 list of ‘World’s Largest Companies’. The company stands 71st in the ‘Forbes Global 2000’ rankings for 2019 – top-most among Indian companies. It features among LinkedIn’s ‘The Best Companies to Work For In India’ (2021)
About BGN Technologies
BGN Technologies is the technology transfer company of Ben-Gurion University, the third largest university in Israel. BGN Technologies brings technological innovations from the lab to the market and fosters research collaborations and entrepreneurship among researchers and students. To date, BGN Technologies has established over 100 startup companies in the fields of biotech, hi-tech, and cleantech, and has initiated leading technology hubs, incubators, and accelerators. Over the past decade, BGN Technologies has focused on creating long-term partnerships with multinational corporations such as Deutsche Telekom, Dell-EMC, PayPal, and Lockheed Martin, securing value and growth for Ben-Gurion University as well as the Negev region. For more information, visit the BGN Technologies website.