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Exclusive: Dryad raises €5.6M for early wildfire detection

Mar 20, 2024
A forest network, developed by startup Dryad.

A forest network built by startup Dryad can detect gases from the early smoldering of wildfires. Photo: Courtesy of Dryad.

Dryad Networks closed on €5.6 million to sell its forest networking tech to more customers around the world, the company exclusively tells Axios.

The big picture: Climate change is leading to more intense and longer wildfire seasons and massive wildfires are causing major destruction around the world.

  • Computing technology can play a key role in helping equip firefighting groups with tools to better manage wildfires.
  • Wildfires release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, contributing to climate change.

How it works: Dryad builds out a mesh network of its fire-sniffing, solar-powered, AI-enabled nodes around a forest. Each node can be nailed directly onto a tree.

  • Dryad CEO Carsten Brinkschulte says a small pilot could typically use 400 of its nodes, while a large commercial deployment could use hundreds of thousands.
  • The nodes detect gases — hydrogen, carbon monoxide and volatile organic compounds — that are present in an early smoldering fire and alert customers to extinguish it.
  • Dryad has deployed 50 installations of its tech for pilot customers.

Zoom in: Berlin-based Dryad said the round included new investors from family offices and existing investors German chainsaw maker Stihl and Canadian mobile operator Telus.

  • The €5.6 million was convertible financing and is the initial close of a €10 million round.
  • The wildfire detection startup also plans to start raising a Series B round, with a target of between €15 million-€20 million, later this year.

State of play: Companies are beginning to use various IT tools, like satellites, drones, cameras, and AI to try to tackle the surge in wildfires.

  • Rain equips autonomous aircraft with firefighting capability and leverages data from early fire- and lightning-detection systems.
  • Pano AI has installed over 100 projects using AI-powered cameras at fire lookouts.
  • OroraTech uses satellite thermal imaging to alert its customers of emerging wildfire risks around their assets.

What's next: Beyond wildfires, Dryad wants to use its forest networks to collect information about forest health, as well as create an audio node to listen for the sound of chainsaws or guns and detect poaching.

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