Cervest secures £3.7m to fund platform capable of forecasting how Earth’s climate is impacting businesses, national security and the wider society in real-time

Cervest – the leader in Earth Science AI – has closed a £3.7m investment round to fund the launch of a revolutionary real-time, climate forecasting platform; a platform with the power to help decision makers manage risk, inform policy and one that could even help solve Earth’s most pressing environmental problems.

Led by deep-tech investor Future Positive Capital, with co-investor Astanor Ventures, the pre-Series A funding round was oversubscribed on its initial £2.5m target and brings the company’s total to more than £4.5m.

Built on three years of research and development by a team of world-leading scientists, mathematicians, developers and engineers, Cervest’s Earth Science AI platform is capable of analysing billions of data points to forecast how changes in the climate will impact the future of entire countries right down to individual landscapes, anywhere in the world.

It does this by combining research and modelling techniques taken from proven Earth sciences – including atmospheric science, meteorology, hydrology and agronomy – with artificial intelligence, imaging, machine learning and Bayesian statistics.

Using vast collections of satellite imagery and probability theory, the platform can accurately identify signals, or early-warning signs, of extreme events such as floods, fires, and strong winds. It can spot changes in soil health, and identify water risk.

The power of using this Earth Science AI approach is the platform’s ability to transform the day-to-day and strategic decision-making of managers operating in risk, insurance, investment, infrastructure, CPG and public policy, as well as farmer co-operatives. This is also its unique selling point.

Cervest’s platform could reveal to a multinational the optimum location to build a new factory before any investment is risked. The platform could warn a leading wheat grower that their crop yield isn’t expected to meet its targets next year, meaning the farmer could better manage their reserves to avoid food shortages. It can be used by insurers to help them set premiums for the next 12 months, or inform governments on a wide range of policies, including security threat risks caused by climatic and natural capital fluctuations. For example, a 2014 study attributed, in part, the 2011 civil war in Syria was fuelled by droughts and the lack of freshwater having a detrimental impact on the region’s economy, which led to unrest.

These forecasts are updated in real-time, via a scalable personalised and filtered dashboard, and can be used to model how any chosen region is expected to change over the coming weeks, months and even decades. A customer can run vast numbers of simulations on specific regions to show all the possible outcomes and these queries can be as specific as: “Where should we source maize from in 2022 if the temperature in a region rises by 2-degrees?,” as an example.

Between them, Cervest’s team comes from a network of more than 30 universities, including Imperial College, The Alan Turing Institute, Cambridge, UCL, Harvard and Oxford, and has published more than 60 peer-reviewed scientific papers. Its unique, multi-discipline approach enables Cervest to simultaneously tie together the multifaceted elements that contribute to our planet’s increasingly volatile climate – across multiple regions.

The platform has been tested and its algorithms are being refined with a number of global companies, including Syngenta, McVitie’s and Lantmännen. Cervest will use its recent investment to grow the business by hiring outstanding talent, securing new customers and continuing to generate proprietary data assets.

A beta version of the platform is due to launch in Q1 2020 and will be designed with risk practitioners in the financial, insurance, government and CPG sectors, working across disclosure, supply planning, investment, sustainability and policy, in mind. Cervest is initially focusing on European markets. It is on target to have the entirety of Europe mapped ahead of the beta launch, after which it will complete mapping the rest of the world.

Cervest was recently accepted in the UK TechNation and the global Creative Destruction Labs Artificial Intelligence programmes, reflecting its pioneering Earth Science AI for climate-smart decisions. Future Positive Capital’s Founder Sofia Hmich and Astanor Ventures’ Co-founder George Coelho have joined Cervest’s Board. The National Institute of Agricultural Botany also joined this funding round.

Leading the investment, Sofia Hmich, Founder, Future Positive Capital said: “Our mission is to back companies that use deep tech – and the sharpest and most ambitious minds – to solve the world’s most pressing problems. Making crucial decisions in the face of climate uncertainty is one of them and Cervest is doing just that. With reports suggesting we have fewer than 60 years of farming left unless drastic action is taken, the need for science-backed decisions could not be greater. Businesses and policy makers hold the key to change and with access to Cervest’s proprietary AI technology they can start to make that change a reality at low cost – before it’s too late.”

Iggy Bassi, Founder & CEO, Cervest said: “We are delighted Future Positive Capital and Astanor Ventures have joined our journey. Our goal is to empower everyone to make informed decisions that improve the long-term resilience of our planet. Today decision-makers are struggling with climate uncertainty and extreme events and how they are affecting their business operations, assets, investments, or policy choices.

“Our world-class team has designed an Earth Science AI platform to quantify both short- and long-range risks to ensure mission-critical decisions are informed in real time. The potential is huge to radically alter the ability to quantify and personalise interconnected risks for users across any space and time at low cost and at mass scale.”

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About Cervest
Cervest is pioneering Earth Science AI to empower businesses, governments and land managers to adapt to climatic and extreme events. Using its research-led machine learning, Cervest streams a variety of ‘signals’ that predict and quantify climate impacts on land-based processes and assets. It brings clarity and personalisation to critical decisions to mitigate risk, inform smart adaptation and optimise investments – whilst supporting the restoration and resilience of our planet and its people. www.cervest.earth

About Future Positive Capital
Future Positive Capital backs companies that use advances in artificial intelligence, synthetic biology, genetics and other deep technologies to solve the world’s most pressing challenges such as sustainably feeding the world’s growing population, combating climate change and serving the ageing population. The London and Paris-based firm will seek to invest up to €100m of progressive capital at Seed and Series A across Europe. Past investments include Meatable, which is pioneering the next generation of lab-grown meat and BioBeats, the world’s first unified computational platform for preventative mental health. Future Positive Capital’s community-powered platform of 100+ experienced operators, scientists and engineers helps accelerate the development of portfolio companies. www.futurepositivecapital.com

About Astanor Ventures
Impact investor Astanor Ventures brings together capital, deep sector expertise and a long track record of leveraging disruptive technologies to bring about a future of food that is nourishing, regenerative, trusted and ultra-fresh. Founded by individuals who have backed some of Europe’s most successful startups, Astanor Ventures helps ambitious, purpose-aligned founders build global companies in the sustainable agri-food sector. www.astanor.com
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Ernesta Baniulyte 
Product Designer

Ernesta has been a full-stack product designer for more than five years. She has valuable experience in the B2B, B2C and B2B2C worlds, and while working at both agencies and product/service companies, she has learned to develop UX research infrastructures to support strategy.

At Cervest, Ernesta contributes to all stages of the product development process – from initial ideation to the exacting detail of UI design – finding new ways to visualise data, and ensure our product is intuitive and user friendly.

Ernesta’s decision to join Cervest was inspired by her desire to make the world a safer, better and more aware place.

Ramani Lachyan 
Junior Research Scientist

Ramani joined Cervest after obtaining her Master’s in Physics from ETH, Zurich. She brings with her valuable experience gained through working on model building and data simulation pertaining to neutrino physics.

Ramani has joined Cervest as a Junior Research Scientist and will be working on creating algorithms that allow for the extraction of physical observables from data from a range of sources.

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Lukas Scholtes 
Statistical Scientist

Lukas completed his maths BSc at ETH Zurich, followed by an MSc in statistics at Imperial College. He wrote his MSc thesis in collaboration with Cervest, on the modelling of North American wheat yields via Bayesian parametric and non-parametric methods.

Following an internship in the NGO sector in Bangladesh and a stint in the world of fintech, Lukas comes to Cervest, excited to apply himself to the challenges that are arising as a consequence of unsustainable land-use policies and climate change.

Aidan Coyne
Junior Researcher

Aidan is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts and Sciences in Science and Engineering at University College London with a focus on computer science and data informatics.

At Cervest, Aidan is working on researching and assimilating a database of articles categorising the reasons for extreme decreases in crop yields across Europe. The information will be used to help predict the impact of weather events on crop yield and contribute to  Cervest’s ability to bring clarity to decision making around climatic and extreme events.

While studying, she also volunteers with environmental conservation groups and youth engagement programmes.

Jasmine Thompson
Engineering Resident

Jasmine’s background is primarily in Python programming with a focus on data analysis and visualisation.

Since graduating, she has worked on data insights for a London-based dating app startup, helping the company understand the user base and guide new growth. She is now excited to use her skills to help Cervest deliver playback data and useful data analysis and is passionate about the potential of data science, machine learning and visualisation tools.

While studying at Westcliff High School for Girls she was involved in a variety of projects including GUI design for BAE Systems and data collection for a surveillance vehicle project sponsored by Leonardo S.p.A. She was also the Data Analyst for a long-running Southend Youth Council project that advocated for students having better mental health services in school.

Stoyan Binev
Junior Software Engineer

Stoyan is a BSc student at King’s College London with two years’ experience in software engineering.

With experience working for Amazon and Google as a software engineer, as well as for a fintech start-up, Stoyan was inspired to join Cervest’s by its planet-wide scale and the opportunity to make a positive impact in the world.

He is currently finishing his degree and dissertation while also specialising in data processing at Cervest.

Agnes Schim van der Loeff
Policy Researcher

Agnes joined Cervest after completing her BA in Arabic and Development Studies from SOAS University of London. She is interested in the intersection of the social, economic and political dimensions of climate change and passionate about climate justice. During her studies she was also engaged in environmental activism, including as environment officer in the SOAS students’ union.

Agnes started at Cervest as a research resident exploring the ethical implications of AI in relation to climate change, which resulted in a paper selected for an oral presentation at the NeurIPS 2019 workshop on AI for social good. Building on this, she is developing an ethical framework for Cervest. As policy researcher she now does research on the regulatory context of Cervest’s work and on emerging policies relating to climate change. 

Kate Chkhaidze
Machine Learning Scientist

Kate joined Cervest after completing her PhD study at the Institute of Cancer Research, University of London. Her Project was on statistical and computational modelling of cancer evolution. Her educational background is in pure mathematics (BSc – Tbilisi State University) and statistics (MSc – Imperial College London). Before deciding to study for a PhD, she worked as a junior analyst/developer at the Bank of Georgia and in parallel was giving lectures in Statistics to undergraduate students in Tbilisi for almost two years.

At Cervest, she will be working as a Machine Learning Scientist on crop classification problems. She loves the mission and goal of the company and is very excited to be a part of the process of achieving it.