German environmental IoT startup Dryad raises €1.8m for ultra-early wildfire detection system

German environmental IoT startup Dryad raises €1.8m for ultra-early wildfire detection system

Published: 07-10-2020 13:18:00 | By: Pie Kamau | hits: 1098 | Tags:

Environmental IoT startup Dryad Networks has secured seed funding of €1.8 million to develop a large-scale IoT network for the ultra-early detection of wildfires - the Internet of Trees.

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, for a faster response. This contrasts to existing camera and satellite-based solutions which take hours or even days to identify fires as they rely on the visual smoke plume developing.

Dryad's vision is to digitize the forest and help protect and regrow the world's largest carbon sinks. Its digital forest solution is designed to help public and private forest owners better monitor, analyze and protect the world's largest, most remote forests, especially against the devastating impact of wildfires. This includes insights into the health, micro-climate and growth of their forests, to also help manage forests more efficiently and profitably.

The Dryad Networks solution comprises:

  • Solar-powered sensors using AI to detect gases emitted from wildfires at the smoldering stage as well as temperature, humidity and air pressure.
  • Gateways featuring Dryad's patent-pending distributed mesh network architecture - an extension to the LoRaWAN open standard for long-range radio IoT networks.
  • A cloud-based dashboard to analyze and monitor a wide range of indicators and alert forest managers.


Dryad's gateways interconnect in a multi-hop mesh network, making it possible to cover very large forests rather than the 12km range typically supported by existing LoRaWAN gateways. This breakthrough technology makes it economically viable to build a communications network for large forests where there is no mobile network coverage. Dryad border gateways at the edge of the network connect to wireless (LTE/NB-IoT), satellite or wired internet to access the Dryad cloud platform.

Dryad is led by Co-founder, CEO and serial telco entrepreneur Carsten Brinkschulte, who has a track record of 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.

Carsten Brinkschulte, CEO and Co-founder of Dryad Networks, said: "The notion of the intelligent forest is finally coming of age. 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. 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."

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 VC firm Brandenburg Kapital, a subsidiary of Brandenburger Förderbank ILB.

The idea for Dryad Networks 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 fuels1 - 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 $100bn2 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.