Infarm raises $170M in equity and debt to continue building its ‘vertical farming’ network – ClearTips
The infirm, vertical farming company that has created a network of urban farms to grow fresh food close to consumers, has raised $ 170 million in new investment in the “first close” of Series C.
Leading the round – which is expected to reach $ 200 million and a mix of equity and debt – is LGT Lightstone, with participation from Hanako, Bonnier, Haniel and Latitude. Existing information investors Atmico, Tripleprop Capital, Mons Capital and Astner Ventures also followed. This brings the company’s total funding to over $ 300 million.
This is testament to the pace of new retail participation in the last twelve months. These include Albert Heisen (Netherlands), Aldi Sud (Germany), Cop / Irma (Denmark), Empire Company’s Sobey, Safeway and Thripty Foods (Canada), Kinokunia (Japan), Kroger (US), and Marks & Spencer and SelfDadges Huh. (UK).
With operations in 10 countries and 30 cities around the world, Infirm says it now harvests more than 500,000 plants monthly, and in a more sustainable way than traditional farming and supply chains. Its modular, IoT-powered vertical agricultural units claim 99.5% less space, 95% less water, 90% less transportation and use of transportation compared to soil-based agriculture. Zero Chemical Pesticides. In addition, 90% of the electricity used in the Infarm network is from renewable energy and the company aims to reach zero emission food production every year.
Founded in 2013 by Osnat Micheli, and brothers Eretz and Guy Głonska, Infirm’s “indoor vertical farming” system is capable of growing herbs, lettuce, and other vegetables. These modular farms are then placed in many customer-facing city locations, such as grocery stores, restaurants, shopping malls, and schools, thus enabling the end-customer to actually pick up the produce themselves. On a further scale, it also establishes Infarms in local distribution centers.
The distributed system is designed to be infinitely scalable – you just add more modules, allowing space – while the whole thing is cloud-based, which means monitoring fields and from Infirm’s central control center Can be controlled. It is an incredibly data-driven, combination of IoT, Big Data, and cloud analytics that is “as farming-as-a-service”.
This idea, the founding team told me back in 2017 when I created the profile of the newborn company, is not just to produce new and better tasting and to reinvent forgotten or rare varieties, but to the supply chain as a whole To interrupt, which remains inefficient and produces a lot of waste.
“Behind our farms is a robust hardware and software platform for precision farming,” explained Mishali at the time. “Each agricultural unit has its own separate ecosystem, which requires our plants to create the perfect environment to thrive. We are able to grow growing recipes that tailor the light spectrum, temperature, pH and nutrients to ensure the maximum natural expression of each plant in terms of taste, color and nutritional quality.
On that note, I caught up with the two founders of Infirm to get a brief overview of the Berlin-headquartered company and go a little deeper into how it will continue to scale.
ClearTips: Are the assumptions you started, have they come true or, more interestingly, was the expected money not given?
Osnat Mishli: When we first interacted about four years ago… we were 40 people in Berlin and a lot of the conversation was centered around the ability that our approach to urban vertical farming could have to retailers. While this was intriguing as a concept for many, we could not imagine that a few years later we would have expanded to about 10 countries (Japan on its way) and 30 cities, including some of the largest retailers. Will be partnered with. world. Our belief at the time was that retailers and their customers would be attracted to the taste and freshness of production, which in our fields, right in front of them in the production segment.
We did not anticipate how soon and how the demand for a sustainable, transparent and modular approach to farming will increase, as society, we begin to feel the impact of climate change and the supply chain on our lives, our choices And our food. Of course, we did not even anticipate a global epidemic, which underscored the urgency of building a new food system that helped to revitalize and heal our planet while democratizing access to high quality, amazing tasting food Can do. The last few months have confirmed the flexibility and resilience of our agricultural model, and that our mission is more relevant than ever.
In terms of signing new retailers based on your progress over the past 12 months, I’m guessing that this has come in handy, though undoubtedly there are still quite a few long-term leads. How have these conversations changed since you started?
Eretz Galonska: While lead time and negotiation speed may vary depending on region and retailer. In mature markets where the concept is familiar and we are already engaged, deal negotiation can reach maturity in 3 months. Since we last spoke, we are already working with most of the well-established leading retailers in Europe, UK and North America. Brands that are pioneers in each of their markets, both in a retail industry, are rapidly evolving to meet the demand for consumer-centric innovation, while proving that access to sustainable, high quality, fresh and live produce is possible No, but it may be available today with Infarm, and produce the aisle every day of the year.
I am interested in understanding where the most store and consumer-facing or if infamous use-cases are most scalable and wholesale, the information is established, in cities or closer to cities than really large distributions. Are centers. Not far from places with population / store densities, but not really in stores. Perhaps you can make me aware of what today’s ratio looks like and how you see it evolving?
Eretz Galonska: Today the division between our farms is about 50:50 in our markets, shops and distribution centers. However as you are speculating, we will expand our network with more distribution centers this year. This expansion will likely lead to a 80:20 split early next year, with freshly located production in most of our regions, delivered throughout the week from the hub located in the center. This not only provides retailers and restaurants with flexibility in terms of production versions, and the ability to customize the presentation of our offerings in floor areas of different sizes, but also gives us the opportunity to develop our next generation farms under development. Allows to start serving entire areas from. today.
Based on our hub, these farms will distribute crop-equivalents of one acre or more of fresh produce on a 25 m2 footprint with significant savings in energy, water, labor, and land-use. We believe this technology will truly challenge the ideas of the possible in sustainable, vertical farming and we are eager to talk about it soon.
Finally, what are the main product lines in terms of food on the shelves?
Osnat Mishli: We have a list of over 65 herbs, micrograin and leafy greens, which are constantly growing. Our offerings consist of known and common varieties such as coriander, basil or peppermint, for special products such as Peruvian peppermint, red weed sorrel or wasabi rucola.
Because our farms give us excellent control over every part of the plant’s growth process, and can simulate the complexity of different ecosystems, we can also add consumers to include root vegetables, mushrooms, flower crops, and even The available Infarm will be able to expand the variety of yields. Superfoods from around the world in the near future. What you are seeing today with Infirm is still only the beginning.