Bowery Farming, the New York-based indoor farming group, has closed a $90 million Series B round of funding in a round led by Google’s venture arm GV, an existing investor in the startup.
Singapore state fund Temasek also joined the round as a new investor alongside Almanac Investments, and Dara Khosrowshahi (CEO of Uber).
Bowery sells eight pesticide-free leafy green products: arugula, butterhead lettuce, romaine, bok choy, basil, and lettuce mixes branded as spring blend, kale mix, and sweet and spicy mix. Customers include Whole Foods, Foragers and Sweetgreens in the New York area, as well as a few restaurants.
The deal brings Bowery’s total funding to $117.5 million after it closed a $20 million Series A last year. Existing investors GGV Capital, General Catalyst and First Round Capital re-upped their investment in this round. Other shareholders include local New York chef sTom Colicchio, José Andrés and Carla Hall.
Bowery argues that it’s two vertical farms in the Tristate area are the most technologically advanced in the world. It uses a variety of hydroponic systems but they are all connected by its proprietary software system called BoweryOS. The system uses computer vision and robotic automation technology, guided by machine learning algorithms to monitor its crops and all the variables that drive their growth throughout the day.
Similar systems using IoT and machine learning are being developed by other well-funded indoor agriculture groups such as Plenty and AeroFarms, as well as indoor ag systems manufacturer from Scotland Intelligent Growth Solutions. IGS argues its test farm in Scunthorpe is the most technically advanced as it combines patented electrical, electronic and mechanical technologies to power as well as manage the farm. They say they can reduce energy usage by 50% and labor costs by 80% compared to other indoor farms with their novel power system.
Energy costs are still a bugbear for vertical farms that typically use LED lighting; although less resource-intensive than traditional lighting, the energy required to power LEDs still accounts for a large portion of expenditure.
Bowery’s focus on building its software platform was a big draw for software-savvy venture capital investors. Spencer Lazar of General Catalyst saw this focus on software and AI as a major differentiator after assessing other players in the space, he told AgFunderNews last year, giving him the confidence to make General Catalyst’s first agtech investment.