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B.C. agtech firm Semios sprouts another $100m in investor capital

More acquisitions, Vancouver hirings ahead, according to CEO
Semios CEO Michael Gilbert says more acquisitions are ahead of Vancouver agtech firm following its latest $100-million raise | Submitted

Michael Gilbert admits a more passive business plan for his company could have been quite successful.

“We could just plug away for the next three or four years and make some traction, then take home capital,” said the CEO of SemiosBio Technologies Inc.

But the prospect of tapping $100 million from investors — the second time since 2020 — to accelerate growth plans has proven tempting for the Vancouver-based agricultural technology (agtech) firm.

Semios revealed Wednesday that Morningside Group led the latest $100-million raise, which comes just weeks after the close of a spring-summer acquisition spree that netted three smaller competitors based in California, Washington state and Australia: Altrac, Centricity LLC and Agworld Inc., respectively.

The Vancouver company specializes in using sensors and data to ensure healthy crops for farmers by monitoring for pests and harmful weather.

About two million Semios sensors are deployed globally, reporting every 10 minutes to help manage farming operations. For example, its devices can detect and identify agricultural pests and trigger the release of pheromones to thwart their mating.

“We can obviously grow our business organically, getting more customers, building our products and expanding geographically,” Gilbert said.

“But obviously, acquiring companies for either their product or their market is going to accelerate the plan, and for me that's the big thing.”

More acquisition plans are in the works following 2021’s $100-million raise.

And it will be a task made all the easier following last year’s separate $100-million raise and the acquisitions that followed, according to Gilbert.

“We're getting a lot of inbound requests now, which is great. And I think we'll continue to see the pace of both acquisitions and partnerships accelerate,” he said, adding more hiring in Vancouver will be on the way as his company looks to integrate the new acquisitions’ technology with Semios’ own platform.

The company presently has about 100 workers based in the province.

Gilbert said Semios will be more open to hiring remote workers as well but “there's a preference for locally just because of the team dynamics and getting to know their co-workers.”

Meanwhile, the CEO said demand for technology that closely monitors and collects data on land is ramping up as climate change wreaks havoc on the environment.

“Just because you can’t grow whatever you’re growing for the last 20 years on that field, doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can grow. There’s probably a different crop that does well when it’s a bit warmer or drier,” Gilbert told BIV earlier this month.

“We can help our customers better understand what would do well or better in those certain areas.”

The latest raise brings Semios’ total haul from investors to $225 million.

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Listen below for an extended conversation with Semios CEO Michael Gilbert on the BIV Today podcast.