GERMANY – Berlin-based urban farming network Infarm has announced that it has raised US$170 million in Series C funding that it will use for infrastructure, hiring, research and development.

The latest funding, which represents the first close of a US$200 million round, was led by impact investing firm LGT Lightstone and brings Infarm’s total equity and debt financing raised to date to US$300 million.

Hanaco, Bonnier, Haniel and Latitude also joined the round, as did existing Infarm backers Atomico, TriplePoint Capital, Mons Capital and Astanor Ventures.

Infarm’s latest funding comes as venture investment in agricultural technology heats up. Venture capitalists have poured US$4 billion into startups operating in the burgeoning agtech space in each of the past two years, a recent Crunchbase News analysis found.

Through mid-August 2020, US$2.6 billion had already been invested in the sector this year, putting 2020 on track to beat the previous two years.

“The coronavirus pandemic has put a global spotlight on the urgent agricultural and ecological challenges of our time. At Infarm, we believe there’s a better, healthier way to feed our cities: increasing access to fresh, pure, sustainable produce, grown as close as possible to people,” Infarm CEO Erez Galonska said in a statement.

Infarm was founded in 2013 by Osnat Michaeli and brothers Erez and Guy Galonska. It said Thursday that it wants to build out the largest urban vertical farming network in the world, scaling to 5 million square feet in farming facilities in Europe, North America and Asia by 2025.

Its vertical farms are centrally located in urban areas, in facilities like supermarkets, distribution centers and restaurants that place food production and consumption closer together. The facilities are also hooked up with cloud-connected smart devices that monitor plant health and resource consumption.

The company claims that because its facilities are centrally located and tech-enhanced, they’re vastly more efficient than the traditional farmland approach, using 99.5 percent less space than soil-based agriculture, 95 percent less water, 90 percent less transport, and no chemical pesticides.

It has set a goal to reach zero-emission food production next year, but says that already 90 percent of its electricity usage comes from renewable sources.

“We are big believers in vertical farming as we see the traditional industry going through (much needed) rapid disruption these days. We were deeply impressed by Infarm’s founders and management, with their ability to move fast and execute,” Pasha Romanovski, co-founding partner of Hanaco Ventures, said in a statement.

“What is extremely appealing about Infarm is their innovative and modular approach, using cutting edge technology that unlocks added value throughout the supply chain, benefiting both the retailers and end-customers. We see a massive demand in the market for sustainable, environment-friendly, and healthy food– and Infarm has just the right team in place to make this happen.”

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