iFarm, a Finnish startup that already has 11 industrial-scale vertical farms operating or under construction in Finland, Switzerland, UK, Netherlands, Andorra, Russia and Kazakhstan with a total planting area of more than 11,000m², has succeeded in raising a further US$4 million in its latest funding round.
The company will use the money to develop its iFarm Growtune SaaS platform that enables operations of multiple varieties of vertical farms; and quadrupling the number of plants compatible with iFarm’s tech. In addition, iFarm will overhaul its automated production lines to reduce labour costs; and complete experiments with growing strawberries, cherry tomatoes, sweet peppers, radish and other crops.
The company says it has over 50 ongoing projects with clients in Europe and the Middle East for 2020. These include an industrial-scale vertical farm based on iFarm’s tech that is due to launch in Finland by the end of the year, with construction funded through the company’s internal crowdfunding platform. Meanwhile, the latest funding round was led by Gagarin Capital, which has previously invested in the project. Other investors include Matrix Capital, Impulse VC, IMI.VC and several business angels.
“Investors can participate in the worldwide network of vertical farms and receive a rate of return well above bank deposit rates,” said Alex Lyskovsky, co-founder and president of iFarm. “We already have a group of financial partners involved in the development of our farms, and now there is a direct opportunity for this type of investment in Finland, UK, Switzerland, Netherlands, Russia and the UAE.”
iFarm’s automated vertical farm management technologies allow customers to start growing salads, greens, berries and vegetables in an urban environment: from empty warehouses and factory shops to basements and distribution centres. The technology is based on an adaptive protocol that includes computer vision, machine learning, the data about thousands of plants collected from a distributed network of farms, as well as industry knowledge.
The iFarm Growtune SaaS platform can determine plant weight, any growth deviations or pathologies, and build a system that improves crop quality characteristics on its own. The company says the platform also provides recommendations to farming staff and adjusts the microclimate settings to ensure better results.
“iFarm enables environmentally friendly production with zero carbon footprint delivery due to much shorter transportation time, does not deplete the Earth’s soil resources, and saves water needed for the plants,” noted Max Chizhov, co-founder and CEO of iFarm. “The new round of investment brings us closer to our goal – we plan to operate one million square metres of vertical farms using iFarm technology around the world and provide technology to grow over 500 crops by 2026.”
“The 2020 pandemic exposed the problems of the global food system – food supplies, sowing and harvesting were disrupted across the globe”, added Mikhail Taver, managing partner at Gagarin Capital. “iFarm is taking a novel approach to agriculture, offering an automated solution to grow crops close to the consumer and ensures food security. We believe that the future of the food market lies in modern technologies and are excited to support the project on its way.”
“Over the past few years, the team has already reached great success, making indoor farming tech possible“, concluded Igor Matsanyuk, chairman at IMI.VC. “We believe that the company will continue to develop its technology, introducing it to new markets. IMI.VC is proud to be a part of that journey.”