Europe-based vertical farming firm Infarm this week announced a $200 million Series D. The round, led by the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), follows last year’s $170 million raise. It pushes the company’s total funding to north of $600 million, while placing its valuation “well” north of $1 bililion, earning its place as Europe’s first vertical farming unicorn.
"Building a global farming network of our climate-resilient vertical farms is a core mission at Infarm, which is why we're excited to announce this latest funding round,” co-founder and CEO Erez Galonska said in a release. “This strategic investment will support our rapid global expansion and bolster our R&D so that we can grow more varieties of crops close to consumers across Europe, Asia, North America and the Middle East. It's another step towards meeting our ambition of growing the entire fruit and vegetable basket in the near future, providing premium products at affordable prices to everyone."
Much of the funding will go toward Infarm’s international expansion plans, with sights set on the U.S., Canada, Japan and additional parts of Europe. The company is also set to spread into more Asia-Pacific markets and the Middle East.
QIA’s involvement in this round is no doubt a big driver in the latter. As part of the deal, the company announcement plans for a Qatar grow center, set to grow tomatoes, strawberries and other fruits in the region. Fruits have been a big push for many vertical farming companies, as they look to move beyond the standard leafy greens and herbs that have long been their bread and butter, due to the relative ease with which they can be grown in controlled indoor settings.
"As a responsible, long-term investor, QIA's purpose is to create value for future generations. We see vertical farming as a way to enhance food security in every part of the world,” QIA’s Mansoor bin Ebrahim Al-Mahmoud said in the same release. “We look forward to working with Infarm to develop their first Growing Centre in Qatar, which will contribute to Qatar's own food security and economic diversification."
Vertical farming certainly makes sense for the region, affording growers the ability to produce crops in climate-controlled buildings, with far less water than standard farming. In 2018, Crop One announced a 130,000-square-foot farming facility set to open in the UAE. Of course, going forward, such concerns certainly won't be relegated to a single region.