Poladrone, an end-to-end drone solutions provider headquartered in Malaysia, announced Tuesday it has raised $4.29 million in a seed round led by Southeast Asia venture capital firm Wavemaker Partners.

Other investors that participated in the round include the Malaysian Technology Development Corporation (MTDC), a strategic investment fund wholly-owned by the Khazanah Nasional Berhad, ZB Capital Limited (a Hong Kong-based principal investment firm), and angel investors.

“The funding round will allow us to scale up operations to better serve customers across the region, and to attract top talents to further improve our products,” Poladrone’s Founder and Chief Executive Officer Cheong Jin Xi said in a statement.

Poladrone is setting up Service Centres in agricultural towns to offer “Sales, Service, and Spare Parts” in Malaysia and Thailand, and is looking to expand to other markets in the region, specifically Indonesia. The Service Centres will also act as Centres of Excellence, where industrial training and knowledge sharing will be conducted to boost the adoption of drone technology.

Poladrone has also recently launched Mist Drone–a blanket spraying agriculture drone that is better suited for open field crops, such as paddy, corn, and banana.

“Many of our customers rely on drones to earn a living, and downtime is detrimental to their livelihood. As most operations happen away from metropolitan areas, our Service Centres will provide better accessibility to customers to quickly maintain or repair their equipment. We are extremely excited to partner with the team at Wavemaker and MTDC who share the same vision, putting our customers’ needs at the heart of our growth strategy,” said Cheong.

He also said, the DroneTech ecosystem is largely fragmented in the region, and with the right team, funding, and support, the group aims to be the leading player for all industrial drone-related solutions.

“Having been brought up in a household of agricultural operators all the while spending over a decade working on his passion for drones, Jin Xi knows precisely what problems plantation owners face and how automation can help. It has been amazing to see him and the Poladrone team’s approach to building localized solutions that are highly efficient, cost-effective, and tailored to plantations of all sizes. Poladrone now works with eight out of 10 of the biggest palm oil plantations in Malaysia–an impressive feat that gives us the confidence to back the team and their vision of propelling Southeast Asia’s agriculture industry,” said Wavemaker Partners General Partner Galvin Lee.

MTDC also said, its investment in Poladrone will spur the adoption of Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) in the agriculture sector in line with the National 4IR Policy and the recently launched 12th Malaysian Plan.

“The technology offered by Poladrone would be able to reduce the reliance on foreign workers especially in the palm oil industry while at the same time helps increase the number of knowledge workers in the drone industry,” it added.

With support from the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC), Poladrone launched Oryctes in August 2020 as the world’s first precision spot spraying drone to introduce an efficient and automated solution to the oil palm industry.

In oil palm plantations, rhinoceros beetles are known as a serious pest to immature palms, affecting their photosynthetic ability and considerably reducing fruit yield. Frequent pesticide spraying exercises are required to maintain plant health. In Malaysia, spraying activities using knapsack sprayers and tractors are both labor-intensive and detrimental to workers’ health. The labor shortage caused by the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the adoption of the technology and Poladrone has quadrupled their team from 20 to over 80 in less than a year to cope with the demand.

Founded in 2016, Poladrone is an all-in-one drone solutions provider that simplifies dangerous and demanding tasks across a range of industries through innovative and cost-efficient applications of autonomous drone technology. Based in Malaysia and Thailand, Poladrone offerings cut across various verticals–Agriculture, Enterprise, Services, and Academy.

Poladrone Agriculture is the pioneer of point-to-point agriculture spraying solutions. It designs and develops its autonomous agriculture drones in-house, namely Oryctes & Mist Drone, to enable the agriculture community to manage farms and plantations effectively. Using drones for data collection, Poladrone Agriculture processes and analyzes plant health, canopy heights, and more to provide recommendations and preventive actions to oil palm plantation owners.

Poladrone Enterprise works with global brands such as DJI, Emlid, FLIR, Sentera, Micasense, and more to provide various enterprise drone products for commercial use, boosting cost and time efficiency in day-to-day operations workflows.

Keeping operations safety in mind, Poladrone Academy–Drone Academy Asia provides commercial drone training to individuals and organizations to effectively implement drone programs in existing workflows.

More than just toys for the enthusiast, Poladrone believes drones are the workhorses of the future. Poladrone Services specializes in aerial mapping and surveying. It also provides turnkey solutions such as crop health detection, visual inspection, and thermal inspection.

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