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Sep 19, 2019

Food for thought: Scotland’s leading role in vertical farming discussed

Scotland’s world-leading role in the vertical farming movement will come under the spotlight this month, in the latest in a series of VisitScotland public talks aimed at building a platform for attracting future business events.

Written by

Georgia Lea

Scotland’s world-leading role in the vertical farming movement will come under the spotlight this month, in the latest in a series of VisitScotland public talks aimed at building a platform for attracting future business events.

David Farquhar, CEO of Intelligent Growth Solutions (IGS), the agritech business behind Scotland’s first vertical farm, will be one of two speakers at INNOVATEFOOD&DRINK, organised by the national tourism body’s business events team.

He will be joined by Fiona Richmond, Head Of Regional Food at Scotland Food & Drink, the country’s food and drink industry body, at Perth Concert Hall on 19 September, as they discuss innovation and the future of the £14.77 billion sector.

Scotland’s expertise in the industry has already seen it play host to many major international business events such as: the first-ever national UK Craft Distillers conference; the International Institute of Fisheries Economics and Trade conference; and the first World Veterinary Poultry Association world congress to come to the UK in 20 years.

IGS launched its first vertical demonstration facility in August last year at the James Hutton Institute, a world leading crop research facility in Perthshire.

The unique technology has been designed specifically to address some of vertical farming’s biggest challenges, including the cost of power and labour, as well as the inability to produce consistently high-quality, competitively priced produce at scale.

In June this year, the firm announced a £5.5 million ‘Series A’ funding round led by US-based S2G Ventures, the world’s leading agri-foodtech investor, as well as AgFunder and the Scottish Investment Bank, to enable the deployment of its technology across the globe.

Mr Farquhar said:“Innovation is at the heart of IGS’ approach to indoor farming. Our Scottish-led team has looked very closely at the challenges facing this emerging market to give farmers far greater control of the ‘weather’ to enhance food production with guaranteed yield, consistency and quality whilst  minimising power consumption and labour costs.

“The global population faces staggering challenges caused by climate change and food production is one of the most fundamental. We need solutions that are sustainable, economically viable and provide food security. Our systems will play a part in providing these solutions to a truly worldwide market.”

INNOVATETHENATION, organised by VisitScotland Business Events, is a series of public talks demonstrating Scotland’s expertise and thought leadership to help build a platform to attract future events to the country’s cities and regions.

Food & Drink is also the latest theme of the business events social media campaign, Legends, which begins this month.

Fiona Richmond, Head Of Regional Food at Scotland Food & Drink, said:“Scotland’s food and drink sector is a national success story, with an enviable reputation at home and abroad and now worth nearly £15bn to the Scottish economy.

“Behind that lies a wealth of talented businesses, large and small, from long-established brands to start-ups and entrepreneurs. Innovation is undoubtedly at the heart of these companies and their development, whether that be tapping into new trends; developing new products and systems or diversifying into food tourism.”

Sian Williamson,  Assistant VisitScotland Business Events Manager for Associations & Sectors, said: “Food and drink is a remarkable Scottish success story which has built its success on high quality produce, but behind Scotland’s natural larder lies science, innovation and collaboration, with our speakers playing a major role in shaping the sector. Innovate Food & Drink is a chance to learn about the world-leading changes taking place within the sector and to build connections between industry and academic experts to help support bids for conferences in the future.”

Value Optimisation
Systems Thinking

At IGS, we believe that innovation is essential in agriculture, as in many other areas. A circular model must be one that we adopt more broadly, and our commitment to this is two-fold.

Sign-up below to learn more about how IGS has designed and developed a vertical farming platform to enable sustainable food production with alignment to the circular economy framework in part one. You will also seefor yourself how the engineering, supply chain management, and maintenance of the GTs aligns to circularity in part two.

Part one. How IGS’ Growth Towers enable sustainable farming and alignment to the circular economy

Recent research by the UN Environment Programme found that ‘countries are missing significant opportunities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions’ and that ‘other actions in the food system, such as reducing food loss and waste, or shifting to more sustainable diets, are widely ignored’.

‍While many of us are aware of the impact of food miles and foodsrity, the UN believes policymakers need to address ‘food waste and a shift more plant-rich diets’.

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