Cases: Other industries

Norwegian robot makes agriculture more sustainable – “Thorvald” will work internationally with funding from Eksfin.

Powdery mildew is a well-known nuisance for many farmers, but now the harmful fungus has gained a new, environmentally friendly opponent, the robot “Thorvald.” The autonomous farm helper has become sought-after labor for farmers worldwide. With funding from Eksfin, several robots are now being built by Saga Robotics to combat powdery mildew on strawberries and grapevines.

The robot “Thorvald” in action on a vineyard in the USA. With funding from Eksfin, more robots like him can work abroad. | Photo: Saga Robotics

Facts

Client: Saga Robotics AS is an Oslo-based startup with roots in the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU) in Ås. The company has around 50 employees distributed in Norway and the United Kingdom.

Production: The company develops equipment and services for UV-C treatment to combat powdery mildew, distribute beneficial insects, and collect data, with the robot “Thorvald” as its flagship product.

Funding from Eksfin: Investment financing. DNB provides a loan where Eksfin guarantees over NOK 23 million.

Elizabeth Stephansens v. 15, 1433 Ås, Norway

Autonomous night watch for farmers worldwide

Powdery mildew damages food plants and reduces food production, forcing farmers to discard large portions of their crops and spray their fields with environmentally harmful chemicals. A mechanical farm helper that even works at night not only increases profitability but also reduces the need for pesticides. “Thorvald” has significant market potential, believes the founders behind Saga Robotics.

Saga Robotics is an Oslo-based startup with roots in the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU) in Ås. The company develops equipment and services for agriculture such as UV-C treatment to combat powdery mildew, distribute beneficial insects, and collect data.

Funding for production of robots for international growth

Eksfin guarantees part of an investment loan from DNB, and with the financing in place, the company is continues its growth in fertile soil. “Saga Robotics is rapidly expanding internationally, and the scaling of the robot, Thorvald, is made possible through the excellent collaboration and contribution from Eksfin, which has provided guarantees for our loans,” says CFO Inger Folkeson.

Inger Folkeson, CFO in Saga Robotics. Foto: Saga Robotics
“The scaling of the Thorvald robot is made possible through the excellent collaboration and support from Eksfin, which has provided guarantees for our loans.” – Inger Folkeson, CFO Saga Robotics

In the United Kingdom, the company has entered into contracts with the largest players in strawberry production and treats larger areas every year.

“We can assist growth companies like Saga Robotics in several ways, whether it’s with working capital, investments for production, or guarantees for export contracts.” – Linn Lie, Head of SME Section, Eksfin

“Technology/robotics is a relatively new area for Eksfin, so ‘Thorvald’ and Saga Robotics are a very interesting and enjoyable customer for us,” says Linn Lie, Head of Eksfin’s SMB Business Section.

Financial assistance from several state entities

“Thorvald” has garnered significant attention in the international research community and has greatly benefited from several state offerings: Innovation Norway and the Research Council have provided startup financing, grants, and research funds, while Nysnø Climate Investments invested on the ownership side before Eksfin and DNB financed the venture in the UK.

Now, the robot “Thorvald” is a steadfast night watchman in many strawberry fields and vineyards, and Saga’s ambitions are high for further growth. “The success we’ve had in the UK has positioned us for growth in the vast American wine market where Thorvald is already being used by large, forward-thinking customers,” continues CFO Inger Folkeson, who has managed the financing at Saga Robotics.

More and more Eksfin customers offer “Hardware as a Service”

“Hardware as a Service” is an increasingly relevant business model for many Norwegian technology companies. With Eksfin’s financing solutions, it’s easier for companies with new business models to obtain crucial financing for growth and scaling for export from banks.

Read about Jotun’s Hullskater and Maritime Robotics, which was Eksfin’s first customer for working capital guarantees.

Learn more about how we can help small and large companies from various industries. Also, read more about our newest product, Working Capital Guarantee.

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