A £1 million investment deal has been offered to a Bristol start-up that has developed irrigation technology for sustainable indoor farming. Based on Kingsland Road, LettUs Grow aims to reduce the waste and carbon footprint of fresh produce by encouraging ‘vertical urban farming’, where food can be grown near its point of consumption.
Plant roots would be suspended in a nutrient-dense mist, instead of the classic soil, resulting in faster growth rates and 95% reduction in water usage compared to open-field farming.
The agri-tech company received a grant of £399,650 from Innovate UK to lead a £700,000 project aimed at increasing food resilience and security in the face of climate change. Also working on the project will be Bristol-based refrigeration specialists ECH Engineering and urban agriculture experts from Grow Bristol.
Furthermore, the Postcode Lotteries Green Challenge, a yearly competition in sustainable innovation, also granted a further €100,000. The grants come hot on the heels of the start-up’s most recent investment round, where the company raised £460,000 from investors ClearlySo, Bethnal Green Ventures and the University of Bristol Enterprise Fund II.
“This injection of private and public funding into the company enables us to accelerate our innovative products to market and build one of the most technically advanced facilities for indoor growing in the world. The global agri-tech industry is very exciting right now, all stemming from the necessity to improve the economic and environmental sustainability of food production. We are fielding enquiries from all around the world from food producers and farmers who want to experience the benefits of our technology across a growing range of crops,” said Charlie Guy, co-founder and managing director at LettUs Grow.
LettUs Grow found that in order to been an estimated nine billion people, humanity must increase food production by 70% by 2050. “Existing methods of agriculture will not be enough to feed this burgeoning global population with 25 per cent less farmland, degraded soil quality, and an ever more unstable climate,” explained Charlie.
“Alongside this, most ‘fresh’ produce is imported out of season, often travelling hundreds of miles to reach consumers and resulting in colossal waste throughout the supply chain. To help solve this problem, LettUs Grow has designed a patent-pending aeroponic system that has shown growth rate increases of more than 70% compared to existing solutions for leafy greens, salads and herb production,” he concluded.