Eyes in the skies

Eyes in the skies

Can a merger make a Nova Scotia firm a global player in vineyard disease detection?

A Halifax company is looking to grab a bigger slice of a niche market after pulling off a merger early in the New Year.

SkySquirrel Technologies Inc. merged with California-based VineView Imaging in January. The new company is operating under the name VineView and is involved in a unique business, using drone and airplane hyperspectral imagery to provide wine growers with information about the health of their grapevines.

With the global wine industry expected to be worth US$385.2 billion by 2021, it appears now is a good time for VineView to increase its corporate horsepower. “We are one of the key players in this space,” says Emily Ennett, VineView’s marketing and business development manager.

SkySquirrel was founded in 2012 in Halifax by Richard van der Put. He remains the CEO of VineView. Dr. Matthew Staid, VineView Imaging’s former president and lead scientist, is the new company’s chief scientific officer. The firm will remain headquartered in Halifax with international operations in Napa Valley, California and Toulouse, France—two of the world’s biggest wine markets.

VineView has found itself in demand because it uses drones and airplanes to provide data that can detect when vineyards are under stress and being attacked by diseases. That data can save vineyard owners millions of dollars. Ennett says one of the key aspects of the merger was bringing Staid and his wife, Melissa, into the fold. “They’ve got 15 years of unparalleled research experience. This will allow us to speed up our research process and bring better products to the market faster,” Ennett says.

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