INTELLIGENT Growth Solutions Ltd, the Scottish-based vertical farm technology business, has secured £5.4 million in funding led by US-based S2G Ventures, the world’s leading agri-foodtech investor.

The backing also including AgFunder means new jobs in the growing industry favoured for its water-efficiency methods that could help people in restricted climates.

The Invergowrie firm is supplying its vertical farming technology to indoor farms to enable the efficient production of food in any location around the world.

Currently employing 14 people, it will expand its senior team by four initially as part of this funding round, with around 120 jobs due to be created by 2021 primarily in software, data, engineering, robotics and automation both in the UK and internationally.

READ MORE: ‘Vertical’ farming on the way up to counter climate change threat

Vertical farming involves the production of food in indoor facilities where crops are planted on a series of levels so that they can be densely and efficiently produced.

The method has surged in popularity due to its sustainability benefits, which include low wastage, the use of less water and the need for much smaller areas of land.

HeraldScotland:

It is increasingly seen as a potential alternative food supply and companies such as Ocado are investing in vertical farming.

It enables the potential for reduction of energy usage by up to 50 per cent and labour costs by up to 80%.

Growth is pivotal for IGS to meet significant demand from growers, retailers and governments aiming to address food provision issues, it said.

READ MORE: Ocado makes agri investment

With global market growth in vertical farming predicted at 24% a year over the next three years, the opportunities for IGS are described as substantial, with over 95% of its sales expected to be exported either directly or through regional channel partners.

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

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

"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."

Michael Dean, founding partner at AgFunder, 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.” 

David Farquhar, chief executive of IGS, 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.”

The Scottish-led R&D team at IGS has developed, patented and productised a breakthrough, IoT-enabled power and communications platform consisting of patented electrical, electronic and mechanical technologies.

This is managed by a SaaS and data platform using AI to deliver economic and operational benefits to indoor growing environments across the globe.