Environmental funding group, Earthworm, has provided a follow-up investment of £1.1m for London food technology business, Vertical Future.
Verticle Future, which was founded in Deptford, (South-East London), by owner Jaime Burrows aims to produce sustainable, pesticide-free produce for the food sector.
In addition to this, the company aims to expand vertical farming across Britain.
This style of agriculture uses automation-driven solutions for coping with economic shocks, including those associated with climate change and rapid change in the population. When designed correctly, they are set up for full automation, reducing reliance on otherwise labour-intensive activities and systems.
Vertical farms are a viable alternative to standardised distribution chains. They can continue to function, notwithstanding material shifts in the macro social position and are hardened against economic shifts.
In recent years, these factors have led to substantial growth in the number of vertical farms, primarily in the U.S. and across Europe.
“Vertical farming will be at the forefront of food production in the years to come; it is poised to help solve one of the biggest issues of our time – how to feed a growing population sustainably. We were impressed by Jamie’s vision and the company’s potential from their seed round and are looking forward to supporting this very special business in its rapid growth,” commented Earthworm CEO Ben Prior.
The news comes at a time where there is a lot of disruption in the UK’s food production sector. The economy is expected to see a 15% decrease due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
In London, food wholesalers and distributors saw more than a 70% fall in sales; and most restaurants (excluding those able to offer takeaway services) were forced to close, resulting in significant job layoffs across the industry.
And it is not just restaurants that are feeling the hit, major farms across the U.K. have been forced to close or scale back their production, and in some cases are facing difficulties in securing labour. For example, farms have warned of a potential shortage in food supply with harvest workers shut out.
Jamie Burrows, Founder & CEO of Vertical Future, said “Earthworm’s commitment to our business and the food sector during such an uncertain and turbulent time for the economy is very encouraging. This investment will allow us to accelerate the growth of our operations and further validates our long-term view that vertical farming will be integral to food systems of the future.”
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