The European “unicorns” of vertical farms have appeared, which can grow 75 kinds of fruits and vegetables

Infarm is an indoor vertical farm start-up company founded in Berlin, Germany. It recently completed a $200 million financing with a valuation of more than $ 1 billion .

This also means that it is the first vertical farming startup in Europe that has crossed the $1 billion unicorn threshold.

▲ Picture from: CNBC

Erez Galonska, co-founder and CEO of Infarm said:

The current food system has collapsed, and vertical agriculture provides a sustainable solution to feed a growing population in a way that is better for the planet, and is more flexible in the face of climate uncertainty and supply chain disruptions sex. Establishing a global agricultural network for our climate-resilient vertical farms is Infarm's core mission.

▲ Picture from: Infarm

The advantage of a vertical farm is that it grows food on indoor shelves, and can grow crops on demand and harvest fresher food anytime, anywhere, as stated on Infarm's official website:

We grow a variety of high-quality products throughout the year. Just where you are, the vegetables you eat every day should not have more flight miles than you. They can be grown on demand and reach you "alive".

Infarm's vertical farms are generally based on "planting centers". Each planting center connects multiple vertical agricultural modules to provide a planting area equivalent to about 10,000 square meters. Depending on the region, a unique climate is artificially set. The partner distribution center ensures fast delivery to the supermarket.

▲ Planting Center. Picture from: Infarm

In addition, Infarm has built smaller in-store agricultural units for the supermarket’s fresh food area. This is what makes their business model unique-as close as possible to the point of consumption and consumers, building small plant factories together.

▲ Small agricultural unit. Picture from: Infarm

Each planting center is equipped with a large number of laboratory-level sensors, which are responsible for monitoring all "plant pups", observing how they respond to the smallest changes in the environment, and collecting temperature, humidity, soil nutrient levels, crop growth rates, etc. A lot of data in terms of.

These sensors have collected more than 60 billion data points from its global agricultural network, and the final information is aggregated into the cloud, or "farm brain." By using these data, Infarm continues to improve the planting formula, planting better and more delicious plants, while greatly reducing the use of natural resources.

▲ Picture from: Infarm

Although it is now dominated by planting centers and in-store agricultural units, Infarm claims that the cloud-connected agricultural network can be rapidly expanded, and their proprietary modular technology can be deployed within six weeks, turning a 40-square-meter space into a city Vertical farms can produce more than 500,000 plants every year-equivalent to planting on land the size of a football field.

The sustainability of Infarm is that it does not use pesticides, recycles water and nutrients, and uses water evaporated by plants. According to Infarm, this new farming mode is 400 times more efficient than soil agriculture, requires 95% less land and 95% less water consumption.

▲ Picture from: Infarm

Because crops are grown directly in cities, the food miles required to reach consumers' plates have also been reduced by 90%.

At present, Infarm has expanded to more than 50 cities in 11 countries/regions including the United States, Canada, Japan and Europe. It operates more than 17 planting centers and more than 1,400 in-store farms for 30 of the world's top retailers.

▲ Some vegetables. Picture from: Infarm

In terms of products, Infarm can now grow 75 different varieties of herbs, salads and green leafy vegetables. They hope to eventually grow whole fruit and vegetable baskets and sell high-quality food to everyone at affordable prices. Next year, Infarm plans to plant 40 new crops, including mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, peas and strawberries.

Although indoor vertical farms have many advantages, critics have pointed out its existing limitations: the cost of energy to control the climate is too high; the light intensity and space are limited, and it is difficult to grow food crops; compared with natural light, the flavor of the crops is not good; Equipment costs and operating costs are high.

▲ Picture from: Infarm

Infarm's latest 200 million investment, partly from the Qatar Investment Authority, Qatar is an Arab country, due to climate reasons, most of the food must be imported. Infarm plans to open a planting center in Qatar in 2023, and the Qatar Investment Authority sees it as a way to enhance food security and economic diversification.

In the future, Infarm will use the funds to expand the scale of vertical farms in the United States, Canada, Japan and Europe, and enter new markets in the Asia-Pacific and Middle East. By 2030, the company plans to open 100 planting centers and realize the planting of all vegetables and fruits.

Grapes are not the only fruit.

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