Food tech company Vertical Future plans to develop two new vertical farming sites in 2020 to serve restaurants and consumers in London, according to a recent AgFunder News interview with company cofounder Jamie Burrows. If all goes to plan, the new facilities will be in the area next March.
Vertical Future closed a £4 million (~$5 million) round earlier this month, with funds planned for supporting “the first phase of Vertical Future’s decade-long growth strategy,” according to a recent press release. That includes a 25x crop production increase as well as the build out of two so-called “ethical plant factories” planned for London’s Mayfair and London Fields areas. The company will also continue to develop its existing site in the city’s Deptford neighborhood.
Founded in 2016, Vertical Future has spent the last few years building out a proof of concept for growing micro-greens and micro-veggies indoors, using a combination of LED lighting, sensors, and software to grow produce in fully controlled environments without the need for pesticides or even soil. Like Square Roots, CropOne, and other companies in the space, Vertical Future’s focus is on “hyper-local food” production — that is, limiting production and distribution to much smaller geographic areas instead of shipping food across an entire country. And as is the case with a growing number of companies, more and more, being hyperlocal means serving urban areas.
“Foodtech can improve the sustainability of our food by transforming the way it is produced, increasing health-benefits and decreasing our carbon ‘foodprint’, and nowhere is this more essential than in urban areas,” Burrows told AgFunder News.
Vertical Future joins companies like Intelligent Growth Solutions and Liberty Produce in bringing more vertical farming initiatives to the UK. While based in Berlin, InFarm has also crossed the channel in recent months to set up shop in Marks and Spencer department stores in London.
Vertical Future focuses more on individual customers as well as eating establishments. In addition to a direct-to-consumer operation, the company works with over 100 restaurants, including Chop’d, Kaleido, and Mindful Chef. According to a recent press release, Vertical Future’s forthcoming London Fields and Mayfair factories will be able to produce enough greens to get that number past 1,000.