Friday, January 19, 2018

Bezos/SoftBank-Backed Indoor Farming Powerhouse Plenty Planning for 300 Farms in China

This is one of the two biggies. Some of our links after the jump.

From Global AgInvesting:
San Francisco-based indoor vertical farming startup Plenty is taking the initial steps toward its planned expansion into China and Japan.

The company is currently adding to its team on the ground in China, and is scouting out locations and distributors in Beijing, Shanghai, and Shenzhen for up to 300 of its vertical indoor farms across the country. The startup has also already established a team in Japan, and has secured farm sites in that country, company CEO Matt Barnard told Reuters.

Founded in 2014 by Matt Barnard and Nate Storey, Plenty is headquartered in a 52,000 square-foot facility in San Francisco. There it grows leafy greens including purple Siberian kale, red leaf lettuce, sorrel, and varieties of basil and chives using a highly-efficient vertical system that grows plants in rows of 20-foot tall columns rather than horizontally. This configuration is highly efficient as it allows water to trickle down the column, and enables nutrients to be gravity fed rather than pumped into the system. Plenty also uses cutting-edge LED lighting systems that emit less heat than traditional LEDs, along with microsensor technology and big data processing, that together can be used to produce high-quality produce at lower prices. And because of the configuration of this production system, (which can produce up to 350 times more produce compared to the same area of traditional farmland while using only 1 percent of the water), Plenty is able to work with the forces of physics, not against them, enabling the company to save significantly on cost of production.
This past year has been notable for Plenty; most markedly due to its securing of record setting funding from a range of high-profile investors, and a top-tier addition to its team.

In July of last year Plenty made headlines after raising a record-setting $200 million Series B led by SoftBank Vision Fund – the $93 billion all-stage tech fund headed by Japanese billionaire Masayoshi Son.  Other participants in the round which brought total funding for the startup to $226 milion, included affiliates of Louis M. Bacon, the founder of Moore Capital Management, and existing investors Eric Schmidt’s Innovation Endeavors, Finistere, DCM, Data Collective, and Bezos Expeditions.

“Indoor farming isn’t new, but Plenty has developed the next critical contribution to the global food supply evolution, creating a healthier crop economy with fresher, more nutrient-rich produce. As an early investor in Plenty, we saw the potential of indoor farming from the start,” Finistere told GAI News last year. “…not only to dramatically increase and improve food production, but also to accelerate AgTech innovation and R&D in adjacent areas like breeding, high-value ingredient production and genomics.”

A Fitting Landscape
Despite the fact that Chinese consumers don’t often opt to eat raw vegetables, China is a highly strategic market to move into for Plenty. It’s production system provides the perfect answer to two of China’s largest food challenges – safety and quality, and land degradation....MORE
October 2017
Tesla's Former Battery Director Joins Farming Startup—UPDATED
December 2017
"This Is Why Jeff Bezos Is Spending Millions on an Indoor Farming Startup"

The competition:
December 2017
A Behind-the-Scenes Look at Europe’s Huge New Vertical Farm
December 2015
AeroFarms Raises $20 Million for High-Tech Urban Agriculture
The Other Musk: Overthrow Big Agriculture?