Indoor farming firm IGS harvests new deal

Edinburgh-based agritech specialist Intelligent Growth Solutions (IGS) has completed a deal with new vertical farming operator Vertegrow – which is backed by BrewDog co-founder Martin Dickie – amid a broader growing re-localisation of the food supply chain.

IGS (whose facilities are pictured) has teamed up with Vertegrow, which is backed by BrewDog co-founder Martin Dickie. Picture: contributed.
IGS (whose facilities are pictured) has teamed up with Vertegrow, which is backed by BrewDog co-founder Martin Dickie. Picture: contributed.

A 245-square-metre insulated superstructure will accommodate four nine-metre-high towers alongside a 1,600 sq m service area on Vertegrow’s site at Waterside Farm in Aberdeenshire. This will provide about 1,340 sq m of growing space, producing up to 70 tonnes of produce a year when fully operational. The system will be built in late 2020.

The tie-up marks the first move into vertical farming for Vertegrow, complementing existing agricultural operations, currently growing crops including barley and rye in open fields.

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Aberdeenshire-based Vertegrow was established through Steadman Partners, the private investment office set up by BrewDog co-founder Martin Dickie.Steadman Partners – also headquartered in the North-east – has a wide range of interests and investments, including property, throughout the UK and beyond.

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The IGS platform was selected for being “the most advanced, efficient and scalable to meet Vertegrow’s requirements”. IGS’ plug-and-play vertical farming product is also credited with offering a “highly” controllable platform to maximise productivity while cutting energy consumption and allowing the production of “consistently high-quality” produce at scale.

The towers are expected to be operational in early 2021, and will grow a variety of crops intended to serve the local food supply chain. Vertegrow will work with local customers, including retailers, caterers, restaurateurs and other local services, to deliver fresh, nutritious, produce year-round.

IGS chief executive David Farquhar said: “This is an exciting step for IGS and for Vertegrow as we set out to deploy a new vertical farm for a new operator in this space. With proven experience in traditional farming, and extensive involvement, through its owners, in the food and drink sector, we are confident that this will bring a new and top-quality offering to the local market.”

He also said such re-localisation of the food supply chain is a widespread feature of post-coronavirus planning, adding: “We look forward to getting under way with the deployment of our growth towers with the Vertegrow team.”

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Graeme Warren of Vertegrow also welcomed the deal regarding such an “innovative project as we position our farm business to address the challenges of the modern food supply chain”.

He added: “Growing quality, nutritious food in North-east Scotland will allow us to reduce food miles for our customers. Combined with our renewable energy sources and rainwater harvesting, the efficiency of the IGS system is a key part of our ambition to grow crops in a carbon neutral way. We look forward to continuing to work with IGS as we construct the facility later this year.”

It comes after IGS in May announced a new partnership agreement focused on indoor vertical farming for the UAE and Saudi Arabian markets.

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