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Sky’s not the limit for bird deterrent

We go one-on-one with Dr John Kapeleris, CEO of BirdSol. This innovative agtech company has developed a patented bird deterrent and wildlife management technology based on an integrated AI system called Cherrp, and is seeking $3 million from investors to accelerate commercialisation. 

More than 60 bird species are known to damage productive horticulture, with the annual cost of that damage estimated at over $310 million in Australia alone. 
Bird management solutions such as netting and culling have yet to fully address the problem, and present ethical, financial and sustainability concerns.  
Enter BirdSol. 
The Adelaide-based startup has developed an AI-powered technology called Cherrp, which recognises specific bird species and communicates in their language to move them away from a protected location to an alternate feeding site.  
CEO, Dr John Kapeleris is getting BirdSol ready to take flight – and is looking for the right business partners to help do it, seeking $3 million from investors to accelerate commercialisation^ by turning on-hold customers into active Cherrp users.  

Here John talks to growAG. journalist, Tim Vetter and takes us through the technology and opportunity. 

Tim: So how does Cherrp talk to birds? 
John: The cameras and AI program in Cherrp can accurately identify a range of target bird species. We then play the sounds of either intra species, inter species or natural predators to deter them from one area, and attract them to another area with the sounds of their own species, or other birds they choose to co-exist alongside. We’ve captured and digitised bird vocalisations, and through machine learning the system can adapt over time and create thousands of different sounds. This stops habituation because the sounds keep adapting and changing to the point where the birds recognise them as new threats.  
Tim: Can it learn to recognise new species as well? 
John: Definitely. Cherrp is fully adaptable and customisable to increase effectiveness. It also focuses on target pest bird species, while allowing beneficial birds like insectivores, cultivators and pollinators to assist crop yield and help with the ecology of the farm. We have most of the main bird species covered, and in the future we’ll eventually be able to deter other species, like bats, rodents and kangaroos. 
Tim: What success have you had so far? 
John: Our first major trial was on an apple orchard in Ashton, South Australia. The farmer was achieving less than 5% yield – birds were just decimating his crop. After we installed Cherrp the yield increased to over 96%. We also recently completed an installation with Murray Bridge Council where we managed to relocate 98% of corellas away from the protected areas. 

Tim: So BirdSol is starting to build a pipeline of customers? 
John: Yes. Along with regional councils, we’re in advanced discussions with a number of prospective customers including grain storage operators, almond farmers and horticulture farmers. We’re also working with a peanut farm in North Queensland, a barramundi fish farm in Northern Territory and pecan producers. We’re at the point now we’ve built this strong platform and are ready to take the next step towards commercialisation.  
Tim: What will it take to achieve that? 
John: We have three main strategic initiatives at the moment. One is expanding our essential infrastructure and our manufacturing capability to meet this market demand and turn these on-hold customers into active Cherrp users. Another initiative is establishing and developing international licensing and distribution channels. And the most immediate priority is raising at least $3 million of investment^ so we can achieve the strategic initiatives. 
Tim: How is the fundraising effort going so far? 
John: We’ve got a lot of interest from companies and investors, but they’d like us to have more customers and revenue before they take the leap. The problem is we need the investment to convert our pipeline into customers. We’ve got them there ready to go but we need the financial backing. Our target is to achieve a trade sale or IPO by financial year 2027/28, therefore all that’s left is the right investors to come on that journey with us. 

Existing bird management solutions such as netting and culling have yet to fully address the problem, and present ethical, financial and sustainability concerns.

Tim: Tell us about your personal journey that has led you to BirdSol. 
John: I was originally a diagnostic immunologist with QML, before joining Panbio where as deputy CEO I helped take the company from zero to $20.1 million. After 12 years at Panbio, I cashed out my shares and basically retired for a year to write a book and spend more time with my kids. Then the Australian Institute of Commercialisation (AIC) approached me to come onboard as Deputy CEO. It was during this time I started working with numerous agtech companies. I was involved in the development of creating value from food waste program, and also helped bring sorghum into the mainstream for human consumption. After nearly 10 years at AIC I took my next job as Chief Operating Officer at ATP Science, and took the company from less than $700,000 value to over $20 million in five years.  
Tim: So when did you join BirdSol? 
John: I became aware of the opportunity midway through 2022 and was drawn to the emphasis on innovation in the job ad, as well as the tagline ‘humans living in harmony with wildlife’. I applied without much knowledge of the technology itself, but was blown away during the interview about the potential of Cherrp and thought I could bring my skills and experience to take the company to the next level. 
Tim: You attended evokeAG in Adelaide recently and spoke to potential investors and customers. What did you think of the event? 
John: It was a fantastic event bringing together the agriculture community. There was a lot of interest around the technology, and it was exciting to be among other innovators in this space. I caught up with a lot of people I hadn’t seen in 10 or 15 years, including a few who have taken a similar journey I have from the medical space into agtech.  

Make an enquiry and learn more about BirdSol's investment opportunity here.^


^This investment opportunity is only for professional and sophisticated investors as defined in the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth). The content of this opportunity is intended for use by persons having professional experience in matters relating to investments and must not be acted or relied upon by any other person including, without limitation, retail clients.

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