James Paterson

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James Paterson
James Paterson. Retrieved from LinkedIn profile, 6 April 2020.
Born1990 (age 32–33)
Clanwilliam, South Africa
NationalitySouth African
Alma materUniversity of Cape Town, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
OccupationCo-founder and CEO of Aerobotics
Known forFounding Aerobotics
WebsiteLinkedIn Profile

Editor: Tamia Adolph

James Paterson is the co-founder and CEO of South African agritech start-up, Aerobotics. The start-up uses drone and satellite imagery to optimise crop performance for farmers on a global scale. This includes orchard management, problem tree identification and pest and disease management.[1]


Paterson grew up on a farm in the Western Cape and, according to his co-founder Benji Meltzer, understands the challenges of farming.[2] Paterson believes in using new technology to improve agriculture.[3] While still on the farm, Paterson built a mechanised drip-line irrigation cleaner and citrus trailers.[4]Paterson’s interest in engineering led him to study his BSc in Mechatronics, Robotics and Automation Engineering at the University of Cape Town. Paterson then obtained his MSc in Aerospace, Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.[5] Paterson then co-founded Aerobotics with Meltzer in 2014.[6]

Awards and Recognition

In 2017, Meltzer and Paterson were granted a joint R8 million seed-funding round from 4Di Capital and the Savannah Fund in Kenya.[7]

In 2018, Aerobotics was chosen as one of 24 startups to be a part of Google’s Launchpad Accelerator in San Francisco, thereby becoming the only South African startup to be chosen.[8] In that same year, the company won the AfricArena VivaTech Challenge and the President Macron Tech Award[9] as well as the Innovator of the Year award at the All Africa Business Leader Awards.[10]

In 2019, Aerobotics received $2 million funding from Paper Plane Ventures.[11]

Paterson was featured in an episode of Google Developers Launchpad’s Startup Spotlight.[12]