By Nathan Rubbelke  – Reporter, St. Louis Business Journal

Agtech startup Aker Technologies, formerly based in Chicago, has relocated its headquarters to St. Louis after snagging $2.6 million in new funding.

The startup’s financing round was led by St. Louis-based Lewis & Clark Ventures. Other investors included Flyover Capital and Central Illinois Angels. Aker Technologies, which is led by co-founder and CEO Orlando Saez, said it plans to use the funding to accelerate its TrueCause technology platform, which provides autonomous crop-scouting.

Founded in 2016, Aker has developed technology for agricultural growers, suppliers and retailers designed to offer disease and pest crop diagnostics and help improve crop yields.

“We have seen a lot of startups building crop observation via remote sensing technologies and predictive crop models, but nothing as innovative as Aker’s technology to automate the process of crop scouting under the canopy,” Lewis & Clark Ventures Principal Larry Page said a statement. “We were particularly impressed with Aker’s early traction with some large agriculture brands, which indicates that they are addressing a real need for growers and retailers.”

With the new funding in tow, Aker intends to bolster its team. The startup currently has five full-time employees, and plans to add six more full-time employees in the near future. The startup said it will also continue to place emphasis on research and development.

Aker was one of five startups chosen for the first Donald Danforth Plant Science Center/Wells Fargo agtech incubator. That incubator program, which is funded by the Wells Fargo Foundation and administered by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, provides non-dilutive funding and pairs cohort companies with Danforth Center scientists to conduct research on the company’s behalf.

“Our team is excited to have a close relationship with the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center to accelerate evidence-based field monitoring practices, along with new input and trait development,” said Saez.