And finally…Scottish vertical farm to revolutionise global horticulture market



A Scottish-based agritech business has today unveiled an indoor “vertical farming” demonstration facility in move that has created what has been described as the world’s most technically advanced indoor farm.

The Intelligent Growth Solutions Ltd (IGS) facility at the James Hutton Institute in Perthshire, utilises ground-breaking, patented power and communications technologies to address the key challenges facing the indoor farming industry.

Fundamental barriers of cost of power and labour have inhibited the sector’s expansion to date, as well as the inability to produce consistent and quality produce at scale. The IGS technology has been designed to overcome these barriers and significantly lower the cost of production overall.

With global market growth predicted at 24 per cent over the next three years, the opportunities for IGS are substantial, with over 95 per cent of its technology solutions expected to be exported.

IGS will not be producing crops for sale, but will be collaborating with growers, retailers and international organisations to deliver the hardware and software platforms to revolutionise indoor growing environments.

Approximately 150 jobs are expected to be created in by 2021 in areas such as software, data, engineering, robotics and automation. Significant demand is already being realised amongst growers, retailers and national governments aiming to address food security issues and alternative methods of production in their regions.

Vertical farming offers huge reductions in water wastage, the elimination of the use of pesticides and a huge reduction in food miles. It allows produce to be grown locally and on demand, which could reduce fresh food waste by up to 90 per cent.

The Scottish-led team at IGS has developed, patented and productised a breakthrough, IOT-enabled power and communications platform consisting of patented electrical, electronic and mechanical technologies.

All this is managed by a SaaS & data platform using AI to deliver economic and operational benefits to indoor growing environments across the globe. This technical solution enables the reduction of energy usage by 50 per cent and labour costs by 80 per cent when compared with other indoor growing environments. It also can produce yields of up to 200 per cent more than that of a traditional greenhouse.

David Farquhar, CEO of IGS said: “The opportunity to unveil Scotland’s first vertical farm, and arguably the world’s most technically advanced indoor facility, is a hugely exciting one for the whole team. As a Scottish-founded and led team we have captured horticultural, engineering and software skills from within Scotland to make this business flourish.

“The global horticulture market is crying out for new approaches to enhancing food production in terms of yield, quality and consistency. It is also searching for ways to reduce power consumption and labour costs and our technology has been designed to fundamentally address this.

“Annual industry spend exceeds $10 billion with compound annual growth of 24 per cent. We are well positioned to help our customers profitably expand their businesses on the back of this growth.”

Professor Colin Campbell, CEO of James Hutton Institute, added: “There have been fantastic synergies coming out of the combination of the IGS technologies and Hutton’s cutting-edge plant science and collaboration. There are genuine potential game-changing opportunities both for new and conventional horticultural and agricultural systems that can come from our collaboration.

“The fact that Scottish innovation and Scottish science have again led the world with something that has massive economic potential locally, as well as globally, with benefits for the environment due to more efficient energy, water and nutrient use is hugely exciting.”