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N.Thing CEO Leo Kim
N.Thing co-founder and CEO Leo Kim in one of the startup's container farms. Image credit: N.Thing

South Korean indoor ag startup N.Thing nets $26m Series B funding

October 4, 2021

South Korean indoor ag startup N.Thing has closed out its Series B round at $26 million, following a $21 million tranche announced today.

The latest chunk of funding was co-led by South Korean VC firms InterVest and Kiwoom Investment. Existing N.Thing investors followed on, while new investors coming on board this round included Ascendo Ventures, IGIS Asset Management, and SL Investment.

Two strategic investors also participated in the round: energy company E1, a major importer of liquefied natural gas; and KT&G – South Korea’s largest tobacco company by annual sales.

In a statement, N.Thing said that KT&G had joined the round to “to enrich the diversity of crops and its market abroad.”

Founded in 2014, the Seoul-based startup has developed a modular, container-based vertical farming system called CUBE – along with the software to run it, CUBE OS.

It recently opened a “smart farm showroom” in Gangnam, one of Seoul’s premium shopping districts, in an effort to build brand recognition among end consumers and “[share] the value and essence of freshness.”

The Seoul-based startup said the Series B funds will go towards worldwide commercialization of CUBE. This will encompass the scaling-up of its the supply chain capabilities and growing operations, as well as the introduction of new products and further tech development.

It has also partnered with E-mart — South Korea’s largest hypermarket chain and acquired Walmart’s operations in the country back in 2006 — which will sell N.Thing produce grown in purpose-built vertical farms set to open later this year in the city of Icheon.

Beyond South Korea, N.Thing is working with Smart Acres, an agtech-focused subsidiary of UAE trading company Sarya Holdings, in order to establish farming operations in Abu Dhabi. Smart Acres is collaborating with N.Thing on tech-enabled hydroponic systems for vertical farms. Sarya also owns owns food trading firm Sarya General Trading.

N.Thing said the two companies are exploring opportunities to supply their produce across the wider Persian Gulf region.

“New capital from our current and new investors, and the additional support of our long-term investor partners, [reflects] the critical need for new solutions to our agricultural system,” N.Thing co-founder and CEO Leo Kim said in a statement.

Jinwoo Song, managing director at InterVest, said that N.Thing offers two routes to “beating the market”: its ability to enable a sustainable supply of produce, even in dense urban or desert locations; and the promise of improved accessibility to food for consumers. “We expect they can play a key role in shaping this agenda across global markets by [disrupting] the food value chain,” he said, explaining his firm’s decision to back the startup.

AFN has contacted N.Thing for further detail, and will update this story as necessary.

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