The $250 million San Francisco-based Bidra Innovation Ventures (Bidra) has announced a $200 million commitment by Morocco’s Mohammed VI Polytechnic University (UM6P) and OCP Group, which is the largest producer of phosphate fertilizer in the world. Bidra also operates in Ben Guerir in Morocco.
The initiative will expand Bidra’s investment scope to include innovations in energy, water, mining, and agriculture. This latest round of funding comes one year after Bidra launched a $50 million fund backed by the same investors focused on agriculture. This additional $200 million is on top of the $50 million that’s already funded.
Amar Singh, Head of Group, Bidra Innovation Ventures, said that UM6P recognized that the role innovation must play to sustainably solve global challenges.
“We are grateful for UM6P’s leadership and support as we continue to back innovators forging the future via sustainable technologies for Africa and beyond. Having OCP’s support is a tremendous advantage because now we can extend OCP’s regional know-how and distribution capacity to startups that are ready to scale,” he said.
In December 2022, OCP Group announced a green investment strategy with a $13 billion commitment over the next four years to achieve full carbon neutrality by 2040.
Bidra A Gateway
“If you have technology that is ready for prime time, consider Bidra as a gateway to scaling your technology in Africa and beyond,” Amar Singh said.
Companies backed by Bidra not only benefit from the financial resources of UM6P and the OCP Group, but also the organisations’ domain expertise and expansive global footprint. Talent, customer, capital – these are the three inputs that every founder is looking for. Bidra, UM6P and OCP can assist on all three.
Jaisimha Rao, Founder and CEO of Niqo Robotics, a company backed by Bidra’s fund, said that their company is pioneering a sustainable revolution in agriculture through AI powered agricultural robots.
“Our proprietary green on green spot spray robots use real time AI assisted computer vision to selectively spray chemicals on plants resulting in up to 60% chemical savings and limiting the environmental impact of excess chemical usage. With the support of Bidra, UM6P and OCP Group, we continue to develop our robotic technology to benefit farmers in emerging markets that currently rely on outdated methods and manual labour,” Jaisimha Rao, said.
UM6P is a hub for education, research, innovation, and entrepreneurship, working to build collaborations with universities around the world. Through experimentation and practice, the University’s modernized approach to education is fostering the future of development across Africa and beyond.
Hicham El Habti, President of UM6P and Board Chair of Bidra, said that this fund would expand their investment in reducing the carbon footprint of the agriculture industry, while tackling the challenges of food security, urbanization, and industrialization.
“Supporting Bidra’s efforts is part of UM6P’s commitment to investing in sustainable agriculture and the training of a new generation of entrepreneurs and leaders, and positioning Morocco and Africa at the forefront of research and technology,” El Habti added.
Over the past year, Bidra has backed robotics used to reduce chemical volumes (Niqo Robotics), biopesticides for deadly insects in Africa (Agrospheres), soil biology and diagnostics technology to customize fertility recommendations (Pattern Ag), a digital storefront for Kenyan farmers to access crop inputs otherwise difficult to obtain (Apollo Agriculture), as well as electrochemical technology to permanently sequester carbon and produce sulfuric acid by recycling phosphogypsum (Travertine).
The Mohammed VI Polytechnic University is a hub of education, research, innovation, and entrepreneurship, aspiring to become a solid bridge of knowledge between Morocco, Africa, and the world.
Located in the “Mohammed VI Green City” in Benguerir, near Marrakech, with branches in Rabat and Laayoune, UM6P applies a “learning by doing” approach and develops sound partnerships with world-wide class universities, to promote leadership and training in focused research areas.
ABOUT OCP GROUP
The Morocco-based OCP Group helps feed a growing world population by providing it with essential elements for soil fertility and plant growth. With a century of expertise and a turnover of 9.4 billion dollars in 2021, the OCP Group is a global leader in plant nutrition solutions and the world’s largest producer of phosphate fertilizers.
OCP Group is present in five continents and works closely with more than 350 clients around the world.