Vertical Future have secured £21m in Europe’s largest ever Series A raise in the vertical farming industry, positioning the company as the leading player in the British controlled-environment agriculture sector.
The London-based vertical farming scale-up is now valued at £100m, with its fundraiser attracting established names in the finance and retail industry such as Pula Investments, Nickleby Capital and Dylan Investors.
The company’s second largest shareholder SFC Capital also participated in the round.
Commenting on the fundraiser, Vertical Futures’ chief executive Jamie Burrows told City A.M. the fundraiser had been a “tremendous success” especially considering the volatility in capital markets.
He said: “It shows there is a clear sign of interest not only in our business model and our approach to technology in the vertical farming sector, but more broadly in our vision for the sector in the UK. The fact we managed to do it without venture capital funds and private equity is a tremendous success.”
Vertical farms produce crops indoors for both consumption and pharmaceutical purposes in stacked layers, powered by artificial lighting.
The reduction of outdoor variables allows farming to be more precise and efficient while using considerably less space than a conventional farm, with Vertical Futures growing the equivalent amount of produce in two per cent of the space.
The process does not use soil, and feeds the plants hydroponically or aeroponically with nutrient-rich water.
This reduces transports costs and carbon emissions by growing resources in urban spaces using efficient cultivation systems.
Vertical Future produces an array of crops, including salads, herbs and some vegetables in vertical stacks up to 15 layers high.
It is aiming to provide food options for families across the income spectrum and offer products at retail prices, while also wanting to use the artificial process the enhance the flavour and complexion of its foods.
Approximately 40 per cent of its planted materials are used for pharmaceutical products, which are especially valuable in an industry currently facing supply chain difficulties and production bottlenecks.
Burrows said: “If you think about a lot of the supply chain issues we are facing as a result of climate change and other factors, they are facing the exact same problems when it comes to getting healthy crops for other sectors. So, it’s not just a one-trick pony when it comes to human consumption.”
The funds raised will be used to boost its development pipeline, which includes a range of projects in the UK and also in Ireland, Italy and Singapore, and to improve manufacturing capabilities and technologies.
Vertical Future will also expand its team, with a headcount of over expected by end of the second quarter in 2022.
The company’s headquarters is based in Monument, London, with its development sites for produce scattered across the country.