Virginia-based Babylon MicroFarms announced this week it has closed a $3 million round of seed funding to expand its controlled-environment farming business. The round was led by previous investors including the Center for Innovative Technology, and also included participation from new investors Hull Street Capital, Venture South, and the CAV Angels Group.
The round comes on the heels of the company’s recent move to Richmond, Virginia, where the business will now be headquartered. Babylon MicroFarms was previously based in Charlottesville, Virginia, where it was originally started as a University of Virginia project in 2016.
Over time, the company has evolved from producing table-top farming units to fully controlled grow systems it licenses out to foodservice businesses such as cafeterias in hospitals and senior living facilities. The controlled-environment farming units grow a variety of leafy greens and some flowers. Babylon Microfarms remotely monitors the hydroponic system so that foodservice operations need only harvest their crops when the plants are ready.
This model of licensing indoor farms to foodservice operations is one Babylon Microfarms shares with companies like Farm.One and Grönska. However, Babylon’s founders told me last year that the company isn’t “necessarily interested in the hardware aspect going forward.” Teaming up with a hardware manufacturer and providing expertise in software for indoor farms is one potential direction the company could pursue, though no mention of that was made in this week’s press release.
For now, the company will focus on expanding the licesning of its farm units nationally. Speaking in this week’s press release, Babylon Microfarms CEO Alexander Olesen said that 2021 “is on track to be a year of accelerating growth and major market penetration” through the national distribution of its farms. The company also said that over the next 24 months, it will triple its workforce, exceeding original projections for 2022.