Intelligent Growth Solutions wins £5m for innovative ‘vertical farm’ tech

Produce growing under vertical farming methods at Intelligent Growth Solutions' Invergowrie facility. Picture: Contributed
Produce growing under vertical farming methods at Intelligent Growth Solutions' Invergowrie facility. Picture: Contributed
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A Scottish agri-tech business has attracted seven-figure investment to advance and export its “ground-breaking” vertical farming technology as it looks to tackle the global food shortage.

Invergowrie-based Intelligent Growth Solutions (IGS), which supplies tech to enable the efficient production of crops in indoor locations, has landed £5.4 million to meet rising demand from growers, retailers and governments seeking alternative methods of food production.

IGS will use the funding to drive product development and create jobs in areas such as software development, engineering, robotics and automation, as well as building global marketing, sales and customer support teams in three continents.

The Scottish firm said it will be deploying indoor farming systems for clients “in every major territory globally” in 2019, forecasting exports to contribute more than 95 per cent of total sales.

Vertical farming grows crops in stacked indoor layers, using less land than traditional methods, enabling year-round production, and making use of abandoned or unused properties.

IGS, based at the James Hutton Institute crop research facility, has developed a patented Internet of Things-enabled power and communications platform which it claims can reduce energy usage by up to 50 per cent and labour costs by up to 80 per cent, compared with other indoor growing environments.

The tool can also produce yields of 225 per cent compared to growing under glass.

The funding round was led by US-based S2G, described as the most active agri-foodtech investor globally in 2018, with support from fellow US online venture capital firm AgFunder and the Scottish Investment Bank.

IGS chief executive David Farquhar said: “We have recruited a world-class international management team, to be announced soon, to drive our plan forward with support from a board of senior international business people bringing industry expertise and best practice governance to the table.

“This industry is just at the starting line and we look forward to working with our customers, partners and colleagues at the James Hutton Institute to enable the highest quality produce to be grown at economically viable prices and help feed the burgeoning global population.”

Sanjeev Krishnan, MD of S2G Ventures, said: “Grocery and food service firms have never been more interested in adopting this in their future supply chain.

“IGS’s revolutionary technology has proven itself to reduce power consumption, improve ventilation and hence reduce the capital and human costs to deliver fresh and differentiated products to consumers.”

Online grocery giant Ocado last week announced investments totalling £17m in vertical farming, including a three-way joint venture to create tech for the industry.