*First Published May 30, 2017. Updated October 27 to reflect final close on $40m.
US indoor agriculture group AeroFarms has closed a $40 million Series D round, adding IKEA Group and David Chang, chef and founder of the Momofuku Group, and retired US Army General David Petraeus to a previously released list of international investors.
A May Securities & Exchange Commission Filing indicated that AeroFarms had raised $34.3 million of a targeted $40 million.
AeroFarms grows leafy greens using aeroponics –- growing them in a misting environment without soil –- LED lights, and growth algorithms.
The round takes AeroFarms’ total fundraising efforts to over $130 million since 2014, including a $40 million debt facility from Goldman Sachs and Prudential.
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AeroFarms attracted new, international investors in this latest round, including Meraas, the investment vehicle of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, vice president of the United Arab Emirates and the ruler of Dubai.
The round marks the first investment for ADM Capital’s new growth stage agriculture-focused Cibus Fund, and global asset management firm Alliance Bernstein also invested. Existing investors Wheatsheaf Investments from the UK and GSR Ventures from China also joined the round.
The filing also revealed that AeroFarms had renamed its holding company to Dream Holdings, as part of its move from an LLC to a C-Corp, referencing its new retail brand Dream Greens. The Dream Greens brand hit the shelves of ShopRite, Whole Foods, FreshDirect, and Newark chain Seabras in February. Before that, the business was selling its greens into food service under the AeroFarms brand.
AeroFarms’ global list of investors is representative of its plans to expand globally, David Rosenberg, CEO, told AgFunderNews.
“We want to expand domestically and overseas, and we are excited about the potential for Meraas to help us expand into that region,” he said.
AeroFarms is not the only group to consider building indoor farms in the Middle East; Pegasus Agriculture Group, is a hydroponics-based indoor ag company that is based in Abu Dhabi, with facilities across the Middle East and North Africa. Egyptian Hydrofarms is another local example, and Indoor Farms of America recently made its first farm sale in the region.
AeroFarms also wants to add to its 120-strong team of plant biologists, pathologists, microbiologists, mechanical engineers, system engineers, data scientists and more. In particular, the company wants to add team members to its research & development department, with a view to improving the quality and operating costs of the business, according to Rosenberg. “This is where the data science and software platforms we’re using can really pull the business together.”
AeroFarms just completed construction of its ninth indoor farm, with four in New Jersey including its state-of-the-art 69,000 square foot flagship production facility in Newark. It also has plans to build in the Northeast of the US.
For more about AeroFarms, read our earlier interview with CEO David Rosenberg here.