U.S. vertical farm start-up secures 'largest ever ag tech investment'

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U.S. vertical farm start-up secures 'largest ever ag tech investment'

U.S.-based vertical farm start-up Plenty has raised US$200 million in a Series B round of funding led by SoftBank Vision Fund, which it describes as "the largest agriculture technology investment in history." 

SoftBank Vision CEO Masayoshi Son is joined by tech billionaires Eric Schmidt and Jeff Bezos through their investment firms Innovation Endeavors and Bezos Expeditions on the funding round. 

Schmidt heads up Google's parent company Alphabet while Bezos is the founder of online retail giant Amazon, which recently made a US$13.7 takeover bid for Whole Foods Market.

San Francisco-headquartered Plenty says it uses science and patented technologies to build "a new kind of indoor farm that uses cutting-edge LED lighting, micro-sensor technology, and big data processing to deliver higher-quality produce for pricing as good or better than what consumers pay today."

It added the investment would support building out its "global, hyper-yield farm network."

“Fruits and vegetables grown conventionally spend days, weeks, and thousands of miles on freeways and in storage, keeping us all from what we crave and deserve — food as irresistible and nutritious as what we used to eat out of our grandparents’ gardens,” Plenty CEO Matt Barnard said.

“Our technology is uniquely capable of growing super clean food with no pesticides nor GMOs while cutting water consumption by 99 percent, making locally-grown produce possible anywhere.

"We’re now ready to build out our farm network and serve communities around the globe.”

Son said that by combining technology with optimal agriculture methods, Plenty was working to make fresh food accessible to all in a way that minimizes wastage from transport.

“We believe that Plenty’s team will remake the current food system to improve people’s quality of life," he said.

The company plans to build farms near the world's major population centers. It says the facilities use 1% of the water and less than 1% of the land of conventional agriculture.

In June, Plenty announced it had acquired Bright Agrotech, a company specializing in vertical farming production system technology. 




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