Most people love the taste of fresh-picked tomatoes and veggies. But unfortunately, many of us also live in climates that deliver such bounty for only a few weeks in the summer.
Indoor farming changes the equation for fresh produce fans, promising year-round harvests. And to date, startups in the space have done an impressive job harvesting capital—with billions in venture and growth investment.
This week, another player announced a sizable round. Amsterdam-based PlantLab, a developer of indoor urban farms that grow salad vegetables, herbs, tomatoes and cucumbers, raised 50 million euros ($57 million) in a financing led by prior backer De Hoge Dennen Capital.
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PlantLab’s technology involves using light provided by specially developed LEDs, which generate the specific wavelength needed by the plants for photosynthesis. The technology has been deployed to date in commercial production at its largest facility in Amsterdam as well as locations in Indianapolis and the Bahamas.
The funds will be used to open more production sites outside the Netherlands, in North America and in Europe. The goal, the company says, is to produce crops in relative close proximity to large populations, thus reducing transport costs, CO2 emissions and food waste.
The PlantLab financing comes amid a bullish period for indoor farming investment. In the past year, investors put over $1.4 billion into the indoor and vertical farming spaces, per Crunchbase data. We list 13 of the most heavily funded companies below:
By far the largest funding recipients are Plenty, a SoftBank-backed vertical farming provider headquartered in Silicon Valley with $941 million in funding to date, and Bowery Farming, which has raised over $750 million in equity financing. New York-based Bowery operates vertical farms that currently sell produce at some Whole Foods locations and other grocery stores, as well as restaurants.
The pool of recent investors in vertical and indoor farming upstarts, indicates the companies in the sector see budget-conscious consumers as well as gourmet food shoppers among its target market. A case in point is Plenty, which counted Walmart among the investors in a $400 million Series E round closed last month.
Illustration: Dom Guzman
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Author: Joanna Glasner