Why we back Vertical Future (Our thesis)
As humanity grows, more food is required, and as wealth has increased, the demand for meat products has also increased. Unfortunately, these drivers have placed a significant strain on available land. When these population and environmental factors are considered, alongside the increase in crop resistance from pests and disease, we need new solutions to feed our future generations.
It is predicted that by 2050, 80% of the world population will live in urban areas, and this growing number means increasing demand. Conventional farming methods won’t be effective in meeting this demand, and this will strain international food imports and food security.
Indoor Controlled Environment Agriculture is a solution for these issues. Growing indoors allows for urban populations to be fed locally, the risk of pests and disease is controlled, less water is used, often no pesticides or herbicides are used and plant scientists can control the growing process to ensure optimum output quality. However, despite all the plus points, the large set up cost of vertical farms means that the output has historically been expensive and utilised by restaurants rather than the mass market.
Enter Vertical Future
Founded in 2016 by Jamie Burrows, former Ernst & Young life sciences consultant and PhD health economist, Vertical Future focuses on reducing health inequalities through its leading approach to indoor farming.
Vertical Future builds vertical farming hardware and software technologies and offers operational support and consulting services. Moreover, the Company has an active R&D programme in conjunction with the University of Cambridge, Loughborough University, and NIAB, conducting a variety of research projects, including explorations into the role of vertical farming in phytopharmaceuticals as well as in the maximising yield and nutritional profile of vertically grown food crops.
The Vertical Future systems are designed to reduce indoor crop production unit costs and unlock scale for Vertical Farms worldwide.
What have the Company been up to
When we started working with Jamie at Vertical Future, the Company had a small farm in Southeast London, successfully growing and supplying micro herbs to restaurants and homes via its own Direct to Consumer brand ‘Minicrops’.
Acceleris advised on a £4m Seed funding round in 2019, which enabled Vertical Future to increase its crop production capabilities considerably while investing in a quality team to support creating the new proprietary Vertical Future technology.
The Company has established a global customer base and order pipeline and developed its solution to provide software and hardware solutions for businesses looking to get into vertical farming. The Company not only builds high tech farms but can also operate them.
Vertical Future have built R&D farms for HECK, a leading British food brand that produces a delicious range of sausages for retailers across the UK. The site provides ongoing research around nutrition and alternative proteins.
The Company has worked with Crate to Plate, supplying several container lab solutions across London to serve local communities.
In January 2022, the Company closed a £22m Series-A equity fundraise, regarded to be the largest European Series A investment in the Controlled Environment Agriculture sector. The investment will allow the Company to continue to expand globally, increase their deployment of farms and integrate specific manufacturing capabilities whilst enhancing internal R&D capabilities.
Acceleris and VF
“Acceleris has been a key advisor to us since our very early days – the genuine, honest and experienced approach combined with considerable venture capital expertise has been invaluable for the team and me. ” - Jamie Burrows
“Working with companies such as Vertical Future is hugely rewarding when you see the rapid progress made by the team in such a short period of time. Being a company in the CEA space that is supplying leading hardware and software solutions whilst also possessing growing experience combined with extensive R&D capabilities really sets VF apart from its competitors and is why, I believe, that it has been very attractive to investors.” - Simon Thorn
The recent significant capital raise will enable Vertical Future to focus on realising their global pipeline of customers and truly make a considerable difference to the health and food security of communities nationwide. In addition, leading retail establishments are interested in working with the business and we are looking forward to the next phase of this inspiring Company’s journey.