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Global expansion for high-tech honey bee hives

21 Nov
Dr Fiona Edwards Murphy, CEO and co-founder, ApisProtect.

ApisProtect, a Cork-based innovator focused on helping beekeepers prevent losses and increase productivity, is set to create 25 new jobs and open its first US office after an investment boost of €1.5 million. 

ApisProtect, a Cork-based innovator focused on helping beekeepers prevent losses and increase productivity, is set to create 25 new jobs and open its first US office after an investment boost of €1.5 million. 

The company, co-founded by UCC Electrical and Electronic Engineering alumna Dr Edwards Murphy, has closed a seed round led by Finistere Ventures, Atlantic Bridge Capital, Radicle Growth, The Yield Lab and Enterprise Ireland.

ApisProtect will use the investment to expand globally, with plans to open its first US office at the Western Growers Association’s WG Center for Innovation and Technology in Salinas, California. The technology developed by Dr Edwards Murphy, following her award-winning PhD research at UCC, is expected to disrupt the industry globally. 

The investment will allow ApisProtect to rapidly scale – deploying its IoT technology to more climates, bee sub-species and bee foraging areas. Its key focus will be establishing a presence in North America, South Africa and the United Kingdom, as well as growing its team in Ireland.  

“This investment will allow us to accelerate our expansion as we work to create an extensive global hive health database to power our machine learning insights”, said Dr Fiona Edwards Murphy, CEO and co-founder, ApisProtect. 

“We look forward to building our team of AI specialists, engineers and scientists over the next three years to 25 employees and helping to reduce honey bee losses worldwide.”  

Headed up by Dr Edwards Murphy, Dr Pádraig Whelan and Andrew Wood, with the team bringing engineering, scientific, beekeeping and commercial experience, ApisProtect provides an in-hive sensor network with long-range, cellular and satellite-powered communication to proactively monitor honey bee colonies. Combining the sensor data on hive conditions, health and activity levels with its proprietary big data and machine learning techniques, ApisProtect gives beekeepers actionable insights and alerts to help prevent losses and increase colony productivity. 

ApisProtect monitors the health of more than six million honey bees in hives across Europe and North America, bringing the power of advanced sensors and machine learning technology into the hive to deliver a 24/7 early warning system to beekeepers, allowing them to give at-risk hives immediate attention. 

Dr Edwards Murphy, who has a PhD in Electrical and Electronic Engineering from UCC, was also a participant in the University’s IGNITE programme, which specialises in supporting recent third-level graduates to turn innovative ideas into successful, scalable businesses.  ApisProtect was partially funded by St. Louis-based agtech accelerator The Yield Lab in 2016. She has been honoured with awards from the Irish Research Council, IBM, The Irish Laboratory Awards, Google and IGNITE, and showcased the technology to HRH The Prince of Wales at UCC during the Royal Visit in June this year. 

“With a science-driven, multi-disciplinary leadership team, ApisProtect is primed to fundamentally change the way commercial beekeepers around the globe manage their hives,” said Kieran Furlong of Finistere Ventures.

“Our Ireland Agtech Fund is dedicated to investing in early-stage agtech companies reshaping the global food and ag industries. ApisProtect was the prime candidate for the fund’s first Irish investment. There is a need for technologies to aid pollination in agriculture, and ApisProtect hive monitor technology has massive potential in key markets like California.”

Alison Crawford at Atlantic Bridge added: “Atlantic Bridge is delighted to welcome ApisProtect to our growing portfolio in the University Fund, a €60m Fund, focused on commercialising cutting-edge research from leading institutions ApisProtect is uniquely placed to disrupt a global, well-established industry with robust technology developed by Dr Fiona Edwards Murphy, following her award-winning PhD research at University College Cork, Ireland."

Environmental Research Institute

University College Cork, Lee Road, Cork

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