Advanced materials company, UbiQD Inc, which has developed a highly versatile, ‘quantum-dot’ nanomaterial that is capable of manipulating colour and concentrating light, has raised US$7 million in a Series A funding round co-led by Scout Ventures and Keiretsu Forum. UbiQD partner, Nanosys, also joined the round as a strategic investor.
The company has developed a proprietary, patent-protected formulation of quantum dots that is safer, more cost-effective, and more durable than any existing alternative. As a result, the material has a wide variety of applications – including boosting crop productivity in greenhouses. With an initial focus on controlled environment agriculture, UbiQD claims to have already established itself as the leader in leveraging quantum dots for agtech and sustainability.
Converted light layer leads to higher crop yields
UbiQD will deploy the capital raised in this round to continue scaling the rollout of its first commercial product, UbiGro – a luminescent greenhouse film that helps plants utilise sunlight more effectively. Customers include major international greenhouse operations covering millions of square feet. The funds will also support development of more advanced UbiGro products, including new ‘light recipes’ tailored to maximise the benefit for specific crops and particular geographic regions.
Red wavelengths have been proven as the most efficient wavelengths for photosynthesis. By converting ultraviolet radiation and blue light to red/orange light, UbiGro films increase the photosynthetic efficiency of light reaching the plant canopy, allowing growers to favour biomass accumulation, root development and flowering/fruiting.
By embedding UbiQD’s quantum dot technology into glass and pliable films, the company has created an electricity-free approach to providing a more optimal spectrum of light for crops. Over the last two years, various pilot customers and technology institutes have tested UbiGro and repeatedly validated its ability to achieve 10-20% higher yields with faster cycle times, reduced waste, and improved crop quality. These improvements ultimately translate into larger cost savings, increased revenue, and higher margins for customers.
UbiGro’s deployment comes at a time when pandemic-related pressures, population growth, and climate change are all putting stress on existing food supply chains. Those same stresses and increased demand for fresh, organic produce are driving the growth of the global commercial greenhouse-grown crop industry, which is estimated to be worth more than US$250 billion a year.
“We’re extremely excited to be working with a cohort of investors who share our passion for advanced materials and our vision for creating positive environmental impact,” said Hunter McDaniel, UbiQD founder and CEO. “The greenhouse industry is growing at an incredible pace, particularly in North America; we’re grateful to be able to draw on the combined expertise of our investors to capitalise on that market, expand our customer base, and enable new product offerings as we head into a new year.”
“UbiQD is fulfilling the long-standing promise of advanced materials; they are bringing nanotechnology to high-impact industries and enabling innovative products to help our world in meaningful ways,” added Howard Lubert, co-founder of Keiretsu Forum Mid-Atlantic. “In doing so, they’re realising the billion-dollar potential that we immediately saw in the company when we first encountered them. We’re excited to back a clear leader in this space and to help the company unlock even larger markets as they continue to grow.”
“UbiQD has really pioneered a new field of materials innovation,” concluded Brad Harrison, managing partner of Scout Ventures. “Using quantum dots for sunlight manipulation has the potential to transform some of the largest industries on the planet and produce significant profits while doing so. As a firm dedicated to supporting transformative technologies that can make the world a better, safer place, Scout Ventures was proud to invest in UbiQD’s next phase of growth.”