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Spotta to expand its smart pest control systems with $1.18m seed funding

Spotta says it will take its smart pest control technology into new fields and help to reduce the amount of pesticide in use globally following a $1.18million seed funding round.

Spotta helps hotels find bed bugs early. Picture: Diana Jarvis
Spotta helps hotels find bed bugs early. Picture: Diana Jarvis

The company, a nominee in the Cambridge Independent Science and Technology Awards, is known for its ingenious Bed Pod, which utilises artificial intelligence to identify bed bugs in hotel mattresses and sends pictures of the offending creatures to the management.

With this product now in use, Spotta has its eyes on expanding into farming, forestry and other sectors.

It has attracted £934,000 investment from Cambridge Angels and US-based VC firm REMUS - representatives of which will join Spotta’s board - along with Martlet Capital, Wren Capital and Angel CoFund.

Spotta CEO Robert Fryers told the Cambridge Independent: “The world currently uses four million tonnes of pesticide each year but despite that, insect pests are a £320bn problem. Insect populations grow exponentially, making early detection critical to minimise damage and reduce pesticide use.

“Current pest detection methods centre on manual inspections of passive traps - a practice which hasn’t significantly changed in decades.

The Spotta team. Picture: Diana Jarvis
The Spotta team. Picture: Diana Jarvis

“Manual inspections have high labour costs, so the frequency and coverage of inspections are generally low, which leads to late identification of pests’ presence or even missing them altogether. This results in large treatment costs and high businesses losses - this can be up to £55,00 a year for bed bug damage for hotels.”

Spotta, based in Newmarket Road, Cambridge, and part of the Accelerate programme at the Cambridge Judge Business School, combines AI and machine learning with Internet of Things technology, sensors and entomology to offer a proactive way of tackling pests.

Its Bed Pods are placed between the mattress and bed frame, and automatically connect to a low-power network.

With batteries that last for a year, they continuously monitor for insects, which are attracted into the units via a pheromone lure. There, it is photographed and analysed via an algorithm to prevent any false alerts to the hotel management. Nothing outside the unit is photographed.

“By creating a fully automated approach with users receiving reliable pest information in real time, Spotta provides effective pest detection at a fraction of the overall cost of existing approaches,” said Robert.

Spotta studies beg bug behaviour. Picture: Diana Jarvis
Spotta studies beg bug behaviour. Picture: Diana Jarvis

Spotta, founded in 2018, is now working with a major forest management organisation to develop an outdoor pest monitoring solution, and also expects its technology to be used for insect monitoring to boost yields in agriculture.

With its funding, the company expects to grow its team, launch two new products and enter further international markets beyond its current footprint in the UK, US and Europe.

Robert added: “We’re delighted to have strong support from a wide group of investors who share our vision. We are at an exciting intersection of AI, environmental sustainability and IoT.

“Our scalable, platform technology enables huge increases in productivity in a range of sectors including agriculture, forestry, textiles and hospitality.

“We are building a substantial, highly profitable business by giving our customers better tools for dealing with invasive and costly species.”

The co-founders of Spotta, CTO Neil D'Souza-Matthew and CEO Robert Fryers. Picture: Diana Jarvis
The co-founders of Spotta, CTO Neil D'Souza-Matthew and CEO Robert Fryers. Picture: Diana Jarvis

Paul Anson, lead investor from the Cambridge Angels says: “Throughout its initial market roll-out with the Bed Pod, Spotta has proven that its pest detection and identification technology has real-world capabilities and delivers customer value in a global marketplace. This was a very strong follow-on round and that speaks to the capability of the management team and their execution success.”

Krishna K Gupta, the CEO of REMUS, who is joining the Spotta board, said: “We’re excited about the Spotta team’s multidimensional technical expertise and the larger pest control space, which has been relatively untouched by digital innovation. Spotta’s expansion into the US specifically makes it an exciting time for the company and our partnership.”

Engineering work at Spotta. Picture: Diana Jarvis
Engineering work at Spotta. Picture: Diana Jarvis

Tim Mills, managing partner of the Angel CoFund says: “The smart pest system that Spotta has developed is a great example of a product built to solve a specific, persistent problem very effectively.

“Not only is that the hallmark of some of the most successful startups but beginning in narrow application is also where AI use has proven most successful to date.

“This approach has allowed it to quickly enjoy commercial success and expand into new markets, and we look forward to seeing the team scale the product into other applications with this funding.”

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