Napa County vineyard aerial imager merges with Canadian drone maker

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SkySquirrel Technologies Inc. and Napa County-based VineView Imaging, providers of aerial imaging and crop diagnostics for vineyards, are merging, the companies announced Tuesday.

The merger is effective Tuesday, and the companies plan to begin integrating operations, customers, global partners and employees immediately.

SkySquirrel, the Canadian-based tech startup recently closed a $3-million investment round, including a $2-million investment from an Ontario-based private investor and $1-million from Innovacorp, a venture capital organization in Nova Scotia.

The combined company, which will operate under the name VineView, uses drone and airplane-based hyperspectral imagery to provide wine growers with essential information about the health of their grapevines. VineView’s specialized data products allow growers to optimize yields, improve grape quality and reduce damage from environmental factors like grapevine diseases and frost.

The merged company will be headquartered in Halifax, Nova Scotia, with international operations based in Napa County and Toulouse, France. Those are two of the world’s biggest wine markets. SkySquirrel acquired its French partner Avidordrone in late 2017 and is scaling up operations for the 2018 growing season across France.

Richard van der Put, SkySquirrel’s founder and CEO, will remain as CEO of the new combined company, and Matthew Staid, former president of VineView and a lead scientist on many NASA projects, will serve as the company’s chief scientific officer.

“VineView has provided exceptional services, deep product knowledge and industry expertise to California’s premium wine market for over 15 years,” said van der Put in a statement. “We’re excited to leverage their strong IP in disease detection that’s unique to the market place as we expand our capabilities and data products to best serve our customers.”

“After working in partnership with Richard and his team for the past few years, we’re excited to officially join forces with SkySquirrel and combine our two companies,” said Staid in a statement from his office in St. Helena. “Together we will be able to scale globally and offer our customers enhanced data solutions.”

Van der Put added, “With Matt’s R&D leadership, the talented teams we’ve built, combined with VineView’s strong industry knowledge and our technological expertise, we are confident in our ability to seize the position as global market leader in the vineyard space. This merger will further enhance how we work with our global partners and solidify our ability to meet the needs of our customers.”

SkySquirrel works with some of the most prestigious wine brands in the world and VineView has been a market leader in California, one of the world’s largest wine growing regions, for over 15 years. Together, the new VineView, with customers in 12 countries and counting, will continue to drive vineyard technology innovation and provide grape growers with the most accurate and advanced data-insights available.

Founded in 2012 and based in Halifax, Nova Scotia, SkySquirrel is a data analytics company that is transforming the way vineyard operators monitor grapevine health through highly specialized aerial-based technology, a multispectral camera system, and a cloud-based image processing service. Named one of the country’s most innovative tech companies, SkySquirrel offers grape growers custom data solutions, specifically engineered for the complexities of vineyards.

VineView Imaging provides aerial remote sensing services to agricultural producers and researchers, with a focus on vineyards and high-value crops. Their specialized mapping products reveal the location of stress, disease, soil boundaries, and other variations thereby enabling farm managers to implement precision agriculture practices. VineView has been serving the California and Pacific Northwest agricultural markets since 2002.


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