The future of farming

Vertical Future, founded by CEO Jamie Burrows in 2016, specialises in the sale of vertical farming solutions across the globe — which is, indeed, the future



by

Nisthula Nagarajan

Published: Wed 28 Jul 2021, 12:00 AM

Vertical Future is a London-based technology company specialising in vertical farming. It designs, builds, and licenses advanced hardware and software solutions for sale around the world. Its mission is to improve population health and to reduce food and health-related inequalities, with fair pricing and social impact.

Vertical Future spent its first few years growing a retail-focused vertical farming brand called Minicrops, located in London. In 2018, the company turned to technology, recognising that there was a significant gap in the market. In 2020, Vertical Future launched its advanced vertical farming solution, which brings together in-house hardware and software technologies to grow produce with less energy, fewer inputs, and optimal use of space. The systems are sold via medium-and-large-scale design and build projects, which can be in new or existing buildings, or via Vertical Future’s advanced ‘Container Lab’ offering. Projects can be found from London through to Singapore and in 2020, the company announced some promising brand and research partnerships, including with Heck (a major food brand in the UK), which focuses on alternative proteins and vertical integration with their production facilities in the North of England.

Supporting Vertical Future’s steep growth is a team divided across engineering, plant sciences, and software engineering, as well as a highly accomplished board.

What is vertical farming?

Vertical farming is the practice of growing crops indoors under controlled conditions, influencing factors such as light, nutrients, temperature, and humidity to optimise plant growth. One example that Vertical Future implements is the use of more red light towards the end of a strawberry plant’s fruiting cycle, creating a sweeter strawberry.

Strategic partnerships

Vertical Future has partnered with Greenbridge, a company that is headquartered in Lebanon and has been championing agricultural revolution for 30 years. This partnership allows Vertical Future to understand the local market knowledge, language, logistics, and agricultural experience, a key advantage. This knowledge combined with its technologies and plant-science expertise will create a strong partnership. Greenbridge will help supply, install and maintain Vertical Future’s systems in the Middle East, coordinating with local suppliers and construction companies, developing relationships with buyers and marketing and selling the Vertical Future system locally. The company’s system is one of the most advanced in the world and partnering with Greenbridge Vertical Future, founded by CEO Jamie Burrows in 2016, specialises in the sale of vertical farming solutions across the globe — which is, indeed, the future The future of farming Nisthula Nagarajan gives Vertical Future the tools to access the UAE market and create tangible change for a better, more sustainable future.

Local market

“In the Middle East and UAE specifically, there is a large and unmet need for sustainable food solutions. Temperatures are extreme, there is a lack of arable land, and there is a high dependency on imports. By creating localised food solutions, countries have the ability to control their food supply and also be more ethical and sustainable. This will increase food security within the region and contribute to a more self-sufficient food production system,” says Jamie Burrows, CEO and Founder of Vertical Future, adding, “the area would benefit from the elimination of pesticide use, reduction of carbon emissions through shorter transportation, an increase in healthier food options, and local job creation.”

Burrows observes that the region seems very open to innovation and he can see a clear belief that by collaboration, a better, more sustainable future can be built. There is also a rich history of farming that underpins the Middle East and the region has in recent years shown its intent in terms of leading the way in innovation and systemic change.

He says that the company is not targeting any markets in particular within the region. “We are market agnostic. Every country needs vertical farming and sustainable food solutions, so we go where the demand takes us.”

Vertical Future’s main role is as an enabler in terms of technology and data. Its systems, data, and know-how will be invaluable for scaling vertical farming infrastructure in future years and supporting long-term facilities operation. The team also has a keen interest in R&D and wants to work with local talent across the region to further emphasise the capabilities of the Middle East.


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