LettUs Grow, a start-up focusing on advanced aeroponic technology for indoor farms, has secured funding worth £1 million ($1.3 million; €1.1 million), with another investment round expected later this year.
The latest funding came from UK innovation agency Innovate UK, which awarded the company a grant of £399,650 to further develop its product. This comes alongside €100,000 from Green Challenge and several additional research grants, LettUs Grow said.
Impact investment bank ClearlySo has also helped the company develop, raising £460,000 from its network of individual and institutional investors – Bethnal Green Ventures, the University of Bristol Enterprise Fund II, managed by Parkwalk advisors and angel investors – ClearlySo said.
The funding will be used to scale up operations and drive forward product development to access a growing market for sustainable ag technology, to help boost food production by 70 percent to feed more than 9 billion people by 2050.
This is through a patent-pending aeroponic system that can increase crop yields by more than 70 percent, compared with existing solutions for leafy greens, salads and herb production, LettUs Grow explained. In aeroponics, instead of using soil, plant roots are suspended in a nutrient-dense mist. This results in faster growth rates than conventional hydroponics, consistent and predictable yields, and a 95 percent cut in water usage versus open-field farming. Pesticides or herbicides are also not used, cutting the environmental impact of producing food, the Bristol-based start-up stressed.
“This injection of private and public funding into the company enables us to accelerate our innovative products to market. Initially, we are focusing on leafy greens and herbs, then moving into fruiting crops such as strawberries and specific rooting crops that are suited to our technology. There will be several further investment rounds, with another one later this year,” Charlie Guy, co-founder and managing director of LettUs Grow told Agri Investor. “The global ag tech industry is very exciting right now, all stemming from the necessity to improve the economic and environmental sustainability of food production,” he said.
Matias Wibowo, Investment manager at ClearlySo explained that investors see the value, both in terms of financial and environmental/social returns from tackling the systemic global problem of ensuring food security and sustainability. Adding: “LettUs Grow provides the technological innovation piece to the vertical smart farming movement that is currently trending rapidly in the urban context.”