Novel Farming Systems, which includes indoor farms, aquaculture, insect, and algae production, saw a renewed bout of interest in 2018 as maturing startups iron out some of the kinks in growing food differently. One of the most notable shifts in this second generation of novel farming systems lies in startups’ varying route-to-market approaches. As the technological prowess powering their systems reaches new heights, companies are now figuring out how to get mountains of microgreens and lettuces into consumers’ hands.
While plant factories have dominated both media and funding attention, many have struggled to break into retail at any scale and now distributed business models are gathering traction. Germany’s Infarm deploys connected growing cabinets in supermarkets, for example, while Freight Farms is placing container farms on school campuses.
In 2019, startups in the category raised $745 million in funding, posting some of the biggest year-over-year gains, according to AgFunder’s AgriFood Tech Investing Report. Investment in the space grew 38% but with 16% fewer deals.
Here are the top 20 Novel Farming Systems deals of 2019:
- Ynsect – The French company completed a $125 million Series C led by UK impact fund Astanor for its mealworm farming, which broke records.
- AeroFarms – The New Jersey-based company raised a $100 million late-stage funding led by INGKA Group for its vertical plant factories.
- Infarm – The German startup raised a $100 million Series B led by X for its distributed farming systems.
- AppHarvest – The Kentucky-based startup raised an $82 million Series A led by Equilibrium Capital and ValueAct Capital for its high-tech greenhouse operations and used the funds to build a 60-acre greenhouse.
- Sunens – The Ontario, Canada-based startup raised a $63 million debt financing led by Bank of Montreal for its cannabis greenhouse operation.
- Bowery Farming – The New York-based startup raised a $50 million Series B extension led by Singaporean state fund Temasek to construct a third vertical grow facility near Baltimore.
- Fifth Season (formerly RoBotany) – The Pittsburgh-based startup a $35 million venture round led by Drive Capital as it came out of stealth with a system that uses 40 robots.
- Seedo – The Israeli startup raised a $30 million post-IPO debt financing to lease its automated home-growing medical cannabis device.
- AgraFlora – The Vancouver-based startup raised a $29 million post-IPO debt financing for its cannabis product line.
- Solaris Farm – The Las Vegas-based startup raised a $20 million venture round for its hybrid greenhouses geared towards cannabis cultivation.
- Protifarm – The Netherlands-based startup raised an $11 million Series B led by Oost NL, the East Netherlands Development Agency, for its robot-grown beetle tofu.
- Shenandoah Growers – The Virginia-based startup raised a $10 million debt financing for its indoor herb growing operation.
- Abundance – The Israeli startup raised a $9 million venture round for its Spirulina production.
- TransCanna – The Vancouver-based startup raised a $7 million post-IPO round for its vertically integrated cannabis facility in Modesto, California.t
- Intelligent Growth Solutions – The Scotland-based startup raised a $7 million Series A led by Ospraie Ag Solutions and AgFunder for its vertical farming technology.
- Yalelo – The Zambia-based startup raised a $6 million venture round led by Finnfund, a Finnish development finance company, for its aquaculture solutions aimed towards wild-capture operations.
- Wildbiene + Partner – The Zurich-based startup raised a $5 million Series B led by Verve Capital partners for its wild bee and sustainable crop pollination business.
- Vertical Future – The London-based startup raised a $5 million seed round led by Earthworm Group for its urban-targeted indoor farming system.
- Urban Crop Solutions – The Belgium-based startup raised a $5 million Series A for its turnkey indoor growing systems.
- Prêt à Pousser – The France-based startup raised a $5 million venture round led by CapAgro and Business Angels for its indoor vegetable and mushroom growing kits.
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