- Less than two years after its launch, the indoor agriculture startup Bowery has raised $US90 million in funding led by GV (formerly Google Ventures).
- The New Jersey-based company will use the funding to open multiple vertical farms in new cities by the end of 2019.
- Though vertical farming alone cannot solve the global food crisis, it could deliver fresh, healthy produce to more areas of the world.
As the popularity of vertical farms continues to rise, investors have taken note.
Less than two years after its launch, the indoor agriculture startup Bowery has raised $US90 million in Series B funding led by GV (formerly Google Ventures). Other investors include the global investment company Temasek, restaurateur David Barber’s Almanac Insights, and the CEO of Uber, Dara Khosrowshahi.
The company previously raised $US27.5 million in 2017.
The new funding will help Bowery scale its operations beyond its giant warehouse in New Jersey, which produces eight types of leafy greens and is testing dozens more.
The company’s products are currently available at select Whole Foods, Sweetgreen, Dig Inn, and Foragers locations in the greater New York City area. They also appear on the menu at two restaurants owned by Top Chef’s Tom Colicchio, who is one of the company’s advisors.
Like many vertical farms, Bowery uses zero pesticides and 95% less water than a conventional farm.
Part of what makes the company unique is its proprietary software, called BoweryOS, which uses machine learning to monitor plants as they grow. If a certain batch of lettuce needs less light or a cooler atmosphere, the software can adjust the conditions in the warehouse.
This makes for a more efficient system that allows the company to grow 100 times more greens per square foot than the average industrial farm.
In a statement, Bowery’s CEO, Irving Fain recognised the need for solutions to the food crisis, which has left an estimated 124 million people without reliable access to affordable, nutritious food.
“We deeply believe in the power of technology to make drastic, necessary improvements to the food system,” Fain said.
Though the expansion of vertical farms will not solve the problem on its own, it could help certain communities gain access to fresh, healthy produce.
With its latest round of funding, Bowery plans to open multiple farms in new cities by the end of 2019. The company will also add more employees and invest in new technology.
Fain previously told Business Insider that the company intends to expand internationally – a move that could distinguish it from its competitors.
Already, the greater New York area is home to multiple vertical farms, including AeroFarms, a 69,000-square-foot warehouse in Newark, New Jersey, and Square Roots, a Brooklyn-based urban farm created by Kimbal Musk (Elon Musk’s brother).
Bowery’s expansion into new territories could help deliver more produce to urban areas.
“These are problems that aren’t unique to New York, let alone the US,” Fain told Business Insider. “We’re going to see populations and cities continue to grow, and getting fresh food to these environments in a way that’s more efficient and sustainable is even more important.”
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