Infarm, the Berlin-based startup that has developed vertical farming tech for grocery stores and restaurants, is disclosing $100 million in in Series B investment. The round is led by London VC Atomico, and consists of mix of equity funding and debt financing. Atomico Partner Hiro Tamura will also join Infarm’s board.
Infarm’s existing investors, including Balderton Capital, Astanor Ventures, Cherry Ventures, also participated in the round. In addition, TriplePoint Capital has invested, presumably providing a bulk if not all of the debt.
Founded in 2013 by Osnat Michaeli, and brothers Erez and Guy Galonska, Infarm’s “urban farming” platform claims to be capable of growing anything from herbs, lettuce, other vegetables, and even fruit. Its modular farms are placed in a variety of customer-facing city locations, such as grocery stores, restaurants, shopping malls, and schools, enabling the end-customer to actually pick the produce themselves.
The distributed system is designed to be infinitely scalable: you simply add more modules, space permitting, whilst the whole thing is cloud-based, meaning the farms can be monitored and controlled from Infarm’s central control centre. It’s this modular, data-driven and distributed approach — a combination of IoT, Big Data and cloud analytics akin to “farming-as-a-service” — that Infarm says sets it apart from competitors.
The broader premise — and clearly one of the reasons Atomico would have taken an interest — is that the consumption of fresh produce, which is rarely home grown, places a significant burden on the environment. This includes over farming and, of course, global transportation. In fact, Infarm says the CO2 footprint of food equals 17% of total global emissions.
Separately, we are told that currently 45% of plant nutrients is lost by the time it arrives in the supermarket.
Explains Erez Galonska, co-founder and CEO of Infarm: “Infarm was founded with an ambitious vision to feed the cities of tomorrow by bringing farms closer to the consumer, and with this round of funding we aim to grow our presence further. Sowing the seeds for a delicious and sustainable food system in urban centres across North America, Asia, and Europe. We are proud and excited to welcome Atomico to the Infarm journey.”
Infarm says the injection of capital will be used to further scale the company’s growth in Europe, the U.S. and beyond and to grow the R&D, operational, and commercial teams. The startup also plans to launch in the U.K. this September with some of “the country’s largest online and brick-and-mortar supermarkets” and is said to be in advanced discussions with retailers in the U.S. and Japan.
To date, the company has partnered with 25 major food retailers including Edeka, Metro, Migros, Casino, Intermarche, Auchan, Selgros, and Amazon fresh in Germany, Switzerland, and France. Overall, it has deployed more than 200 in-store farms, 150 farms in distribution centres, and is harvesting 150,000+ plants monthly.