Dryad Networks raises €1.8M in seed funding for ultra-early wildfire detection system

– the dawn of the digital forest

Berlin/Eberswalde, Germany – October 6, 2020 – Environmental startup Dryad Networks has secured seed funding of €1.8million to develop a large-scale IoT network for the ultra-early detection of wildfires.

Dryad is led by co-founder, CEO and serial telco entrepreneur Carsten Brinkschulte, who has a track record in building and exiting high-growth businesses. Brinkschulte scaled mobile core network software startup Core Network Dynamics (CND) and sold it to Twilio in 2018. Previously, he led the turnaround of virtual SIM vendor Movirtu which was sold to BlackBerry in 2014. He also founded AIM-listed mobile messaging pioneer Synchronica in 2004.

Dryad’s digital forest solution is designed to help public and private forest owners monitor, analyze and protect the world’s largest, most remote forests and tackle the devastating impact of wildfires on the environment, wildlife and communities.

A commercial business with sustainability and tech for good at its core, Dryad’s vision is to digitize the forest and help protect and regrow the world’s largest carbon sinks. Plans include supporting sustainable forest management by providing forest owners with insights into the health, microclimate and growth of their forests. This will also help them manage their estates more efficiently and profitably.

Thanks to several ground-breaking technology innovations, Dryad’s large-scale IoT solution uses a network of sensors for ultra-early detection of wildfires in under 60 minutes even in remote areas, prompting a faster response. By contrast, camera and satellite-based solutions can take several hours or even days to identify a fire because they rely on the smoke plume developing enough to be detected from a long distance. This makes it far more difficult, or even impossible, for fire fighters to contain the outbreak.

The four investors participating in the seed round are: STIHL Digital, the corporate venture arm of the STIHL Group; German energy firm LEAG; impact investor ISAR AG; and the venture capital arm of ILB, the Brandenburg Kapital.

The idea for a wireless IoT network to connect the natural world was conceived by Brinkschulte and co-founder Marco Bönig when the devastating fires ripped through the Amazon rainforest in 2019. That year, forest fires generated 7.8bn tonnes of CO2 - almost 20% of the annual global emissions from the burning of fossil fuels - while destroying one of the planet’s most important carbon sinks. Wildfires also account for the displacement of tens of thousands of people, approximately $5bn of direct fire-fighting costs and over $100bn of economic damage globally every year.

The team successfully tested a minimum viable product in a forest in Germany in May 2020, and has since secured ten letters of intent from forest owners in Germany and Africa.

Carsten Brinkschulte, CEO and co-founder of Dryad Networks, said: “The notion of the intelligent forest is now coming of age. Our vision is to deliver an effective communications architecture for even the most remote forests and make sub one-hour wildfire detection the new reality. Using a solar-powered, distributed mesh IoT network capable of covering vast expanses of forest where mobile network coverage is lacking will radically transform the way forests can be monitored and managed.”

Dr. Tim Gegg, Managing Director at STIHL Digital, one of the investors, added: “We invest in transformational digital startups that share our ambitions. The team at Dryad Networks impressed us with its plans for an innovative IoT platform to digitize forests and help protect the natural world. We are enthusiastic about our role as an early stage investor and collaboration partner.”

Thilo Neu, Senior Investment Manager at Brandenburg Kapital, said "We believe that Dryad’s mix of investors, early adopters and experienced founders means it is well positioned to succeed in this new area. Dryad’s breakthrough technologies have the potential to reduce the impact of wildfires, delivering many environmental and economic benefits."

About Dryad Networks

Dryad is an environmental IoT startup based in Berlin-Brandenburg. Its mission is to develop a large-scale IoT network that allows public and private forest owners to monitor, analyze and protect the world’s largest, most remote forests. The initial focus is to develop a system for the ultra-early detection of wildfires. Dryad secured seed funding of €1.8million and opened for business in September 2020.

Web: dryad.net

Twitter: @DryadNetworks

LinkedIn: linkedin.com/company/dryadnetworks

About Brandenburg Kapital GmbH/ Investitionsbank des Landes Brandenburg:

The Investitionsbank des Landes Brandenburg (ILB) manages various investment funds that finance growth- and innovation-oriented companies based and/or operating in Brandenburg. The funds for the early-stage and growth fund of Brandenburg Kapital, which was set up on behalf of the Brandenburg Ministry of Economics, are currently provided from funds of the European Regional Development Fund and from the ILB's own funds. To date, ILB's investment activities have helped 228 companies grow by around EUR 248 million. Around 9,000 jobs have been created or secured. The funds managed by ILB cover the entire spectrum from venture capital financing in the start-up phase and early growth phase to mezzanine financing for established medium-sized companies. In addition, private investors have so far invested more than 450 million euros in the companies. www.brandenburg-kapital.de