A Cambridge business founded only two years ago has landed a £2 million order in China for its world-leading animal tracking technology.
Herdsy has developed a collar with sensors which allows farmers to monitor any domestic animal, including cows, sheep, goats and poultry.
A South African conservation body has even signed a deal for Herdsy to track rhino and buffalos in a contract initially worth £200,000. These animals can be worth millions of pounds, with the most expensive buffalo sold for £6.5million.
Enterprise Europe Network in the East of England has provided support from start-up, initially around raising finance.
But the focus soon turned to expansion into international markets, gaining a better understanding of customer needs and of how to reach the right customers.
EEN, a key partner in the Innovate UK family of services, connected Herdsy to the right people through the Innovate 2 Succeed programme. It was at an EEN partner-matching event in London that the crucial introduction was made to the Chinese.
Herdsy, one of a new breed of innovative and dynamic UK agri-tech companies, has gone from start-up to opening offices in China, South Africa and, most recently, in Ireland. The company is currently recruiting for 10 rurally-based tech jobs to fulfil these new contracts.
Founder and CEO Richard Hobson said: “We had no budget to go to China, so I was given a travel grant. We also received £60,000 matched funding from our Local Enterprise Partnership to build our prototype. Now our single deal in China deal promises to make us the global leader in our field, in terms of animals tracked, in two years.”
The company’s breakthrough in the Chinese market began with a top 10 finish in the prestigious Dragonfly Cup awards, becoming the highest ranked non-Chinese company of 500 entrants.
Richard added: “We achieved all this with no office, no staff or installed products in China. The initial contract of £750,000 to tag cashmere goats is set to grow from thousands of animals to millions, putting us on course to be the global leader by animals tracked in under three years.”
The Herdsy collar incorporates a unique mix of dynamic sensors featuring GPS, a 3D-accelerometer, temperature sensors, barometric pressure, heart and pulse monitors and body mass measures.
All this biomedical data is processed by proprietary algorithms and fed back to a laptop or mobile device. A farmer or herd manager can follow one or more animals’ movements and behaviour and keep a constant check on their welfare and be alerted to any significant changes in the animals’ value.
It means that small and medium-sized agricultural businesses can monitor livestock day and night, transforming their day-to-day operations and improving profitability.
The China deal has been absolutely transformative.
Richard Hobson, founder and CEO, Herdsy.