London tech company which uses drones and artificial intelligence (AI) to transform farming has raised £3m from a number of backers including Sir James Dyson.

The European Space Agency, Newable Private Investing and Velcourt, the UK's largest commercial farming operation, also participated in Hummingbird Technologies' funding round.

Hummingbird, which was founded in 2016 by Will Wells, is a data and imagery analytics business. It enables precision agriculture through the use of AI that harnesses information from drone, plane and satellite technology, combined with weather and soil data and expert plant pathology.

"Artificial intelligence and digital technologies are dramatically enhancing traditional farming techniques with significant cost efficiencies for farmers and the added benefit of helping to cut back on the overuse of chemicals," Wells said.

"With the rising demand for agricultural production to meet the needs of the world’s increasing population, we see a huge opportunity for further growth.

"This latest round of fundraising will enable us to continue our expansion across the UK and into key markets such as Russia, Brazil and Ukraine. As a fast-growing business, we will continue to raise further funds to support our ambitious plans."

Wells said the funding milestone reflects the company's position as "the leading player in AI-based agritech".

Hummingbird employs 25 data science employees in London and has also created a further 50 part-time pilot and agronomy jobs in the countryside. The business currently has over 100,000 hectares under management.

Dr Graham Turnock, chief executive of the UK Space Agency, said: "Hummingbird is an exciting and innovative British company, harnessing space technology in products which could help farmers use pesticides and fertilizers more efficiently and protect the environment.

"The government's recently published Industrial Strategy set out a clear vision for the UK to become the world's most innovative nation and we are working with industry to capture 10 per cent of the global space market by 2030."

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