The new financing, announced this morning, brings Bowery's total take to $27.5m. The company declined to disclose valuation, but it’s clearly a big bet on something that for many years had been little more than a dream. "We are a tech company that is thinking about the future of food," says Bowery’s co-founder and CEO Irving Fain.
Bowery’s indoor farming — its first farm is in a Kearny, N.J., warehouse — relies on proprietary computer software, LED lighting and robotics to grow leafy greens without pesticides and with 95 percent less water than traditional agriculture. By locating near cities, indoor farms, like Bowery’s, can also cut the transportation costs and environmental impact of getting food to an increasingly urban population. And by controlling its indoor environment, Bowery can produce its greens 365 days a year. The result: Bowery can produce 100 times more greens than a traditional outdoor farm occupying the same-sized footprint.
With the global population rising at breakneck speed, farmland shrinking, and increasing numbers of people moving to urban areas, the idea of creating vertical farms in cities that would produce food more efficiently has long been a dream. Dickson Despommier, an emeritus professor of biology at Columbia University, had long promulgated this idea (as I wrote about a decade ago in Popular Science). But it’s only recently that technological advances in both data analytics and LED lighting have allowed such an approach to be done at scale.
“We think the industry is more or less near an inflection point,” says GGV managing partner Hans Tung. “It is no longer just a pie-in-the-sky theory. It has the chance to scale in the next five years.”
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