AgFunder New - Vertical Future raises £4m seed round

Investment: Forget the Ritz; Mayfair could soon have its very own vertical farm too. In an interview with AFN, Vertical Future co-founder Jamie Burrows disclosed plans to bring one into the area. All going well, he said, the company, which he co-founded with his wife Marie-Alexandrine, should be in “by next March.” Assisting these sorts of exploits, his company announced this week, is a £4 million ($5 million) seed round led by Earthworm – a London-based impact investor with a portfolio across food, energy and waste – and supported by corporate finance adviser, Acceleris Capital. Amberley Advisory and Gateley were also involved in the seed round. The startup said more investment are expected in the coming months.

“Vertical farming offers huge potential in solving one of the biggest issues of our time…”

“Foodtech can improve the sustainability of our food by transforming the way it is produced, increasing health-benefits and decreasing our carbon ‘foodprint’, and nowhere is this more essential than in urban areas,” said Jamie Burrows, Founder and CEO of Vertical Future, commenting on his startup’s raise.

“This is our first major move in this sector, building on three years of hard work and proof of concept. Sustainable food will be one of society’s biggest challenges in future years and we are at the forefront of the effort for better, long-lasting solutions,” said Lord Nigel Crisp, Non-Executive Board Member at Vertical Future. He also formerly served as Head of the National Health Service (NHS).

CEO of Earthworm, Ben Prior, said that the team at Vertical Future has a “very special business poised for growth”, adding that tech solution offers “huge potential in solving one of the biggest issues of our time – how to feed a growing population sustainably.”

Vertical farming continues to gain a lot of attention. One of AFN’s most-read stories last month was about Fifth Season coming ‘out of stealth’ with a 60k sqft vertical farm & $35m in funding. Check it out, here.

Surely, this Mayfair move will cost Vertical Future a king’s ransom?

Not at all, replies Burrows, who is currently negotiating the Mayfair site tenancy agreement and hinted at it being feasible due to a partnership that he declined to disclose. His current vertical farming operations are in Deptford and his company is planning to open another in London Fields in November, he said.

Investors and experts speaking to AFN at this week’s “Game-Changing Technologies for Agriculture,” organised by the Agri-Tech Team at the UK Department for International Trade (DIT), expressed some reservations about Vertical Future and other such operations, worrying about whether they would be able to live up to the hype, whether their tech could deliver, and even whether a husband and wife founder combination was the best way forward.

In response, Burrows said: “Every company in the world has needs to live up to their deliverables and ambitions. We are delighted with our substantial raise within the industry, with heavy-weight investment behind us. We believe that teams of this kind (husband and wife) are quite prevalent across the globe, many tech startups have been launched with couples  – traditional farms have been “family-owned” for generations.“Marie and I,” he added, “and our incredibly talented team, look forward to growing the business, with family values at heart.”

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