Dhe urban farming start-up Infarm, known for its supermarket greenhouses, has received $ 170 million from investors. The Berlin company announced on Thursday that the financing round will be led by LGT Lightstone, an investor from Liechtenstein specializing in sustainable investments. Among others, the Duisburg family holding company Haniel and old investors such as the Atomico fund of Skype founder Niklas Zennström are also involved.
Co-founder and CEO Erez Galonska announced to the Reuters news agency that he would get another 30 million dollars from investors by the end of the year. Galonska founded the company seven years ago in Berlin together with his brother Guy and Osnat Michaeli. Infarm now places large-scale greenhouses in supermarkets and counts chains such as Kaufland, Edeka, Aldi Süd, the American supermarket Kroger and the British Marks & Spencer among its customers.
The fresh money is a mixture of equity and debt. According to Infarm, it increases the amount that has flowed into the company to more than 300 million dollars. The cash injection is to flow into the expansion of business in the now ten countries and finance the development of a new generation of urban farms.
Digitally networked greenhouses
The greenhouses monitor the growth of the plants digitally and save this data on a server. A cloud networks the greenhouses. The new generation farm should produce as much as one hectare of agricultural land. The integration of advanced technology and software enables these farms to save manpower, land, water, energy and kilometers of transportation, thus contributing to a more sustainable food system.
According to Galonska, Infarm’s business model is “agriculture as a service”: while the greenhouses remain in the hands of Infarm, “everything that comes out of the top belongs to the supermarkets”. In the meantime they have signed “contracts worth $ 400 million,” he told Reuters. More than 500,000 plants are currently being harvested every month. So far, vertical agriculture is a subsidy business, but the company’s aim is to make profits by early 2023.