Scots agri-tech pioneer IGS in £5.4m funding round

Intelligent Growth Solutions Ltd (IGS), the Scotland-based “vertical farm” technology business, announced on Tuesday a £5.4 million Series A funding round led by US-based S2G Ventures, the world’s leading agri-foodtech investor. 

IGS — based at The James Hutton Institute in Invergowrie, near Dundee — supplies sophisticated “plug-and-play vertical farming technology” to indoor farms to enable the efficient production of food in any location around the world.

IGS said it has received significant interest from around the world with orders mounting for its “ground-breaking” patented technologies.

“IGS’ unique technology has been designed specifically to address some of vertical farming’s biggest challenges, including the cost of power and labour, as well as the inability to produce consistently high-quality produce at scale,” said IGS.

“These economic and operational barriers to growth have inhibited the sector’s expansion to date.

“IGS has designed all its products to be highly pragmatic, flexible, modular and scalable in-line with market requirements. 

“The £5.4 million investment will allow IGS to create jobs in areas such as software development, engineering, robotics and automation.

“It will also help IGS to increase its product development, including continued innovation in AI, big data and the Internet of Things.

“IGS will also be building global marketing, sales and customer support teams in three continents.”

The Series A funding round was led by S2G in Chicago, the most active agri-foodtech investor globally in 2018, with online venture capital firm AgFunder in San Francisco, the second most active, and Scottish Investment Bank (SIB).

“Indoor agriculture production is at a tipping point,” said Sanjeev Krishnan, managing director of S2G Ventures.

“Grocery and food service firms have never been more interested in adopting this in their future supply chain.

“Cost and quality of product will be critical to scale this adoption.

“IGS’s revolutionary technology has proven itself to reduce power consumption, improve ventilation and hence reduce the capital and human costs to deliver fresh and differentiated products to consumers.

“We are excited IGS will help enable this emerging movement.”

AgFunder Michael Dean said: “We see IGS as the perfect foray for AgFunder into the indoor agriculture arena.

“As a developer of highly sophisticated energy and control system technologies for third-party indoor farms, IGS satisfies our bias for investing in enabling technologies rather than technology-enabled production with the inherent risks associated with building and operating a large asset.”

Kerry Sharp, director of the Scottish Investment Bank, said: “We are delighted to support the continued development of IGS as it looks to take its technology to the global marketplace. 

“The company has been account managed by Scottish Enterprise since 2014 and has received both financial and non-financial assistance covering innovation and R&D as well as supply chain management and international market entry. 

“The company has made significant progress over the last 12 months and has assembled an impressive team with a clear focus on taking the IGS offering to an international market.” 

IGS CEO David Farquhar said: “We are thrilled to have the backing of the world’s leading agri-tech investors and the Scottish Investment Bank.

“We have recruited a world-class international management team, to be announced soon, to drive our plan forward with support from a board of senior international business people bringing industry expertise and best practice governance to the table.

“This industry is just at the starting line and we look forward to working with our customers, partners and colleagues at the James Hutton Institute to enable the highest quality produce to be grown at economically viable prices and help feed the burgeoning global population.”

Thorntons’ corporate and commercial team acted for IGS throughout the Series A funding process. 

A Shepherd and Wedderburn corporate team acted for S2G Ventures.