Malaysian agritech startup Qarbotech announced Monday (December 4, 2023) that it has closed US$700,000 (approximately RM3,264,450 at the time of writing) in seed funding and grants.
This seed round was led by 500 Global, and includes grants from the Singaporean government-linked Temasek Foundation, and Malaysia’s Khazanah Nasional.
Both grants were won through challenges, namely Temasek Foundation’s Climate Impact Innovations Challenge and the Khazanah Impact Innovation Challenge 2023.
Established in 2018, Qarbotech offers a biocompatible solution, having developed patented photosynthesis enhancement nanotechnology that increases crop yields by 60%.
It works by using organic compounds with properties similar to chlorophyll, which increases leafy plants’ photosynthesis rates, resulting in shorter growth cycles and thus higher yield.
According to a press release, the fresh funds will be used by Qarbotech to strengthen their R&D efforts and expand their manufacturing facility to produce up to 50 times its current capacity.
This will allow them to serve farmers and growers in new markets across Southeast Asia. Based in Kuala Lumpur, it has already extended its services abroad, namely in Indonesia.
“As the industry’s most accessible photosynthesis enhancer, we are pioneering a new and disruptive solution that will reshape conventional approaches to farming,” Chor Chee Hoe, the CEO and co-founder of Qarbotech said.
“The strategic support from our investors propels us towards scalable growth, but more importantly, allows us to empower more farmers around the world to feed the rest of us.”
Adding on to what he said, Dr. Suraya Abdul Rashid, Chief Scientist and founder of Qarbotech shared that this wasn’t just a proud moment for Qarbotech, but also for Universiti Putra Malaysia, where their “groundbreaking research took root and flourished”.
Solidifying their resolve to address current farming challenges is the fact that the world is already facing a food crisis, and the global population will only continue to grow. Globally, around 30% do not have food security, which is about 2.3 billion people.
In Southeast Asia alone, the population is estimated to grow by 12%, from 670 million in 2020 to 750 million by 2035.
This population surge and climate volatility are then expected to drive a 40% increase in food demand by 2050.
Adding on to that, limited agricultural resources, widespread land degradation, and diminishing arable land caused by urbanisation and industrialisation in the region pose a threat to food production.
Qarbotech’s technology can be pivotal for farmers to grow more with less arable land.
500 Global managing partner, Khailee Ng, said in the release, “When we have the privilege to meet a team that’s catalysing a step change for farmers, we back them.”
Believing that Qarbotech’s technology has the potential to solve the global food security challenge, Khailee concluded, “We believe that when Qarbotech wins, these 2.3 billion people win too.”
Featured Image Credit: Qarbotech