Neupeak Robotics have secured $100,000 through the National Research Council and Innovate BC’s Fast Pilot Program. The BC Fast Pilot program allows BC technology companies to demonstrate the impact of their product, measure the value of their solution, and encourage customer adoption through the development and operation of a pilot plan. Neupeak was one of twelve successful startups that applied for BC Fast Pilot funding, and will use the funds to alleviate chronic labour shortages faced by produce growers today surrounding labour-intensive tasks; in this case beginning with strawberry picking.
Neupeak Robotics, a robotic produce harvesting start-up based in the Fraser Valley, will use the grant to demonstrate the impact and measure the value of autonomous robotic fruit pickers for growers in Canada and the U.S. Come this fall, Neupeak will expand its partnerships to work with Bergen Farms in Abbotsford BC, and its sister location Hilliers Estate farms in Qualicum Beach, BC - one of the largest strawberry growers on Vancouver Island. The proposed pilot plan will improve the ability of autonomous pickers to navigate crop rows, detect and locate ripe fruit, and gently pluck produce from the stem without damage. The award will also allow Neupeak to manufacture additional robots this fall, and welcome new pilot partners for next season.
“The technology being developed by Neupeak has the potential to benefit the industry greatly. Their autonomous harvesters can significantly bring down labour costs by reducing the amount of time human workers spend harvesting. Such a reduction will be critical in ensuring the independence and profitability of the strawberry industry,” says James Bergen, owner of Bergen Farms.
“We are thrilled to be given this opportunity from NRC/Innovate BC and to be working with Bergen farms to address a growing industry labour problem and to support a safer approach to fruit harvesting,” says Anshul Porwal, CEO of Neupeak Robotics.