KUALA LUMPUR: Petronas Ventures has teamed up with Braintree Technologies Sdn Bhd to invest in the agriculture technology (agritech) startup that develops artificial intelligence (AI) driven robots for farm automation or smart farming.
Petroliam Nasional Bhd said on Friday its Petronas Ventures, which is its corporate venture capital arm, marks the national oil company’s venture capital investment in Malaysia.
“The transaction is expected to be completed in early July this year, ” it said in a statement.
Braintree Technologies develops robotic devices and proprietary software that would provide agricultural total solutions as well as convert non-revenue generating, unattended agricultural land into high-value crop farms.
The head of Petronas Ventures Mohd Azli Ishak said this investment reflects the company’s strategic intent to venture into the Malaysian startup ecosystem in scouting for breakthrough technologies that support Petronas’ growth beyond the oil and gas business.
“We believe this investment in Braintree Technologies will establish the right ecosystem for a smart farming business model, capitalising on Petronas’ strong knowledge in urea and fertiliser application and Braintree Technologies’ AI and robotics technology, ” he said.
Braintree Technologies CEO Arif Makhdzir said when the company was first set up, he noticed the gaps but also opportunities in the agricultural industry in Malaysia, where smart farming can help to increase farm productivity and yield, and the livelihood of farmers.
“Combining our technical experience in software development and agriculture knowledge, we hope to drive a change for Malaysia in this major industry, ” he said.
Arif said the team was selected to join the Petronas FutureTech Accelerator programme in 2019, and since then, “we have sharpened our business model and attracted interest from several investors”.
Petronas Ventures is actively scouting for visionary entrepreneurs in Malaysia and around the globe to solve critical problems in the industrial and energy space through breakthrough technology and innovative business models to support its business growth and sustainability agenda.
This initiative is in line with Petronas’ Sustainability Agenda and the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 8,9 and 13, focusing on promoting sustainable economic growth, industry-innovation and climate action respectively.