Ambitious growth plans
Recently, Infarm secured a Series D investment of $200 million from existing and new investors, including the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) along with Partners in Equity, Hanaco, Atomico, Lightrock, and Bonnier. With this round, the company is now valued at over $1 billion and has hit unicorn status. With the latest funding Infarm has also stolen the crown of Europe’s first vertical farming unicorn.
The fresh funds will let Infarm expand the deployment of its vertical farms in the U.S., Canada, Japan and Europe, and enter new markets in Asia-Pacific and the Middle East with both in-store farming units and Infarm Growing Centres. Infarm aims to open its first Growing Centre in Qatar, wherein it will harvest tomatoes, strawberries and other fruiting crops besides herbs, salads and leafy greens by 2023.
Erez Galonska, co-founder and CEO of Infarm, said: “Building a global farming network of our climate-resilient vertical farms is a core mission at Infarm, which is why we’re excited to announce this latest funding round. This strategic investment will support our rapid global expansion and bolster our R&D so that we can grow more varieties of crops close to consumers across Europe, Asia, North America and the Middle East.”
His Excellency Mansoor bin Ebrahim Al-Mahmoud, CEO of QIA, said: “As a responsible, long-term investor, QIA’s purpose is to create value for future generations. We see vertical farming as a way to enhance food security in every part of the world. We look forward to working with Infarm to develop their first Growing Centre in Qatar, which will contribute to Qatar’s own food security and economic diversification.”
Fresh produce with everyone
Infarm was founded in Berlin in 2013 by Osnat Michaeli and the brothers Erez and Guy Galonska. The founding team was passionate to be self-sufficient, eat better and were growing their own food with all flavours and nutrients, sans chemical pesticides and transport kilometres. They started Infarm with the aim to share their own-grown produce with everyone and developed their smart modular farming system. This system lets them distribute farms throughout the cities, grow fresh produce even in small spaces, and fulfill any market demand.
Sustainable vertical farming solution
Vertical farming methodology and the Infarm system offer a sustainable solution to feed the increasing population. The German agritech does this in a way that is much better for the planet and makes it more climate-resilient while there are issues such as climate uncertainty and supply chain disruption.
Its proprietary modular technology is easy to deploy in as quickly as six weeks to transform a space of 40 square metres into an urban vertical farm, which can produce more than 500,000 plants each year, thereby making it equivalent to a football field-worth of crops.
This new farming model is almost 400 times more efficient as compared to traditional soil-based agriculture without the use of chemical pesticides. It needs 95% less land and uses 95% less water as it recycles water and nutrients and uses the evaporated water of the plants. As crops are grown within indoor farms in cities, it takes 90% fewer miles to get to consumers’ plates.
Infarm Growing Centres
Infarm Growing Centres are its flagship production units. The spaces connect several vertical farming modules and offer a space that is equivalent to 10,000 square metres of growing capacity. These centres have a distribution capability to make sure the crops are quickly delivered to supermarkets. Also, Infarm builds smaller in-store farming units within grocery stores to make the shopping experience more dynamic for consumers. Both these farming modules are designed to maintain superior freshness and consume relatively fewer resources.
The company’s farming modules can produce 75 different varieties of herbs, salads and leafy greens. The company is in plans to expand its portfolio with 40 new crops next year.
What’s interesting is that each farm is fitted with numerous lab-grade sensors that have collected more than 60 billion data points from its global farming network. The information pertaining to each farm is stored in the cloud called “farm brain.” Infarm’s crop science team analyses the data on a timely basis and updates the growing environment in each module and improves factors such as yield, quality and nutritional value with Artificial Intelligence and its patented technology.