“Our investment will help enable Hong Kong technologies to reduce the massive loss of life, environmental problems and financial burdens caused by wildfires”
(HONG KONG – 7 July 2020) A HK$6 million investment led by Hong Kong-based venture capital fund Beyond Ventures is enabling a Hong Kong company to help protect over 4 million hectares of forest around the world.
Robotics Cats is a global leader in detecting wildfires at an early stage and serves national parks, UNESCO World Heritage sites and private plantations with its InsightFD Early Wildfire Detection System. This is a network of InsightFD robots linked to the Insight Globe management platform in a typical wildfire control centre.
InsightFD robots constantly rotate and scan for visual and thermal signals of burning vegetation using sensors, while an image-detection system combined with an artificial intelligence (AI) algorithm are able to detect wildfires within a distance of 15 kilometres.
The new seed round funding from Beyond Ventures will be channelled into R&D, as well as sales and operational functions. It will also finance development of applications and a push into new markets in geographies as far flung as Australia, Spain, Greece, the US, Brazil and Chile.
Some of the cash will go into funding resources to support customers in Hong Kong, Indonesia, Thailand, Portugal and Mexico, while enabling the company to build partnerships with private fire service contractors, woodland management service companies and telecommunications providers.
Robotics Cats CEO and Founder Andre Cheung said: “We are a team of nature lovers and techies passionate about applying the latest technologies to greatly reducing the devastating effect of wildfires. Our company is therefore thrilled to be partnering with a like-minded investor such as Beyond Ventures, which shares our devotion to promoting environment-protection technologies developed in Hong Kong.”
Locally-born Cheung explained how early wildfire detection and environmental monitoring solutions are crucial to preventing disasters such as Australia’s bushfires. Over a period of several months from mid-2019, “Black Summer” wildfires destroyed an estimated 18.6m hectares of bush and nearly 6,000 buildings. At least 34 people perished, along with what is reckoned to be 1 billion animals. If such bushfires could be detected during the early ignition stage, they could be controlled and extinguished far more effectively, thereby reducing damage to a significant degree.
Cheung added: “We were terribly saddened by this tragedy and will ramp up global adoption of our technologies to help make the world a safer place.”
He holds more than 20 years’ experience in international B2B sales and has served at director level to the benefit of Hong Kong and multinational organisations such as DYXnet, Cisco, EdgeCast and Verizon.
Lap Man, Co-founder and Managing Partner of Beyond Ventures, said: “Our investment in Robotics Cats represents a success story on several fronts. One is about bypassing the bottleneck effect on Hong Kong’s innovation ecosystem normally caused by the difficulty of commercialising technologies. But I am happy to see Robotics Cats demonstrating how Hong Kong-developed technologies can be successfully commercialised and deployed globally.”
He added: “Another success factor for us is the way Robotics Cats aligns with the Beyond Ventures mission to bring about positive impact on society.”
Highlighting the sheer magnitude of the positive impact Robotics Cats will have on the world, Lap Man explained how it will help protect more than 4 million hectares of forest – a land area 42 times larger than Hong Kong itself.
He said: “The AI-enabled wildfire detection solution developed by Robotics Cats provides an automated 24/7 monitoring system that vastly improves accuracy and response times – all to help reduce the massive loss of life, myriad environmental problems and financial burdens caused by wildfires globally.”
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About Beyond Ventures
Beyond Ventures is a Hong Kong-based venture capital fund established by eGarden Ventures in partnership with locally-grown serial entrepreneurs in 2017. eGarden Ventures is a venture capital fund focused on technology, media and telecoms (TMT) and holds nearly 20 years investment track record in Mainland China. The fund is also supported by leading investment company, Hony Capital, which manages more than US$10 billion in assets.
Since 2018, Beyond Ventures has appointed Co-investment Partner to the Innovation and Technology Venture Fund (ITVF), which was formed to spur private investment in local innovation and technology (I&T) start-ups.
Adopting the slogan “From Hong Kong. For Hong Kong”, Beyond Ventures seeks to revitalise Hong Kong’s innovation ecosystem by bringing experienced venture and private equity funds together with successful entrepreneurs able to provide start-ups with mentoring support.
Beyond Ventures focuses on early stages investments on artificial intelligence, biotechnology, chips, consumer electronics and platform business. For more information about Beyond Ventures, please visit the official website at www.beyondventures.hk