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AeroFarms Adds High-Profile Investors to Round Out $40M Series D

November 2, 2017

Indoor vertical farming startup AeroFarms announced the final closing of its Series D at $40 million with the addition of IKEA; chef David Chang, who is also the founder of Momofuku Group; and retired U.S. Army General David Petraeus, to the company’s impressive list of existing investors.

Founded in 2004 in Newark, New Jersey, AeroFarms develops high-tech, indoor “aeroponic vertical farms” that use only 5 percent of the water used for conventional agricultural production,  and employ proprietary technologies, including systems that target fertilizer directly to a plant’s roots, and software-controlled LED grow lights.

AeroFarms uses advanced technologies to take agricultural production to the next level. The company’s horticulturalists and engineers employ sensors and algorithms to collect plant data which is then analyzed to understand what inputs and factors cause certain crops to grow to include particular traits and attributes such as flavor or leaf texture – meaning AeroFarms can create bespoke crops custom grown for its customer’s menus. AeroFarms’ methods of production also allow for food to be produced without the use of soil, herbicides, pesticides, or fungicides, creating produce that can be eaten without needing to be washed.

“We are at a major inflection point globally as we think about the challenges of increasing population and urbanization, loss of fresh water and arable land, worker welfare, food safety, and food security, and AeroFarms is uniquely positioned to address each of these areas with proprietary growing technology and unmatched growing history and expertise,” said David Rosenberg, co-founder and CEO of AeroFarms.

This additional funding brings the company’s Series D to a total of $40 million, up from $34 million raised this May in a round that included ADM Capital’s Cibus Fund, UK-based Wheatsheaf Investments, China’s GSR Ventures, and Meraas, the investment fund of Dubai’s Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid.

“We are happy to have been able to make room for Ikea and David Chang to close out our May financing,” said Rosenberg. “Strategically partnering with additional major international investors and leaders with a shared vision and values demonstrates the maturity of our business and our ability to expand and have a global impact.”

AeroFarms has just built its ninth farm in Newark, New Jersey, making it the largest indoor vertical farming operation in the world when ranked by annual output. And the company plans to use this additional funding to support the its R&D and technology developments as well as to fund the expansion of its farming operation on a global scale – something that its diverse investors can help facilitate for the company.

General David Petraeus is currently partner at private equity firm Kohlberg, Kravis Roberts & Co. (KKR) and chairman of KKR Global Ventures, and is also a professor at Harvard, City University of New York, and the University of Southern California. He also is on the board of advisors for American Corporate Partners – a nonprofit that links military veterans with businesses and offers help in career development, and has connected AeroFarms with military veterans who now are employed at the company.

London-based ADM Capital’s Cibus Fund – which is led by co-founders Robert Appleby and Jason Silm, former head of Agribusiness Investment at VTB capital and director at Macquarie Agricultural Funds Management -recently announced a $100 million close earlier this year.

“We are delighted with the Cibus Fund’s investment in AeroFarms,” said Alastair Cooper, head of early stage investments at ADM Capital Europe. “In our opinion, AeroFarms is at the vanguard of the necessary integration of big data analytics and food production, enabling the production of more food with less; and provides part of the solution to feeding the world’s growing urban population.”

Meanwhile, IKEA and Meeras have the ability to foster expansion for AeroFarms into new geographies, and David Chang has ties that can put AeroFarms on the radar of a large swath of end-users.

“As a chef, I’m always seeking new sources of deliciousness. Momofuku has always championed local farmers and is continuously looking for innovative solutions to improve our quality and sustainability practices,” said Chang. “AeroFarms’ incredible technology allows them to grow consistent, high-quality ingredients all year round. At the end of the day, the goal is always to find delicious ingredients from local purveyors we admire, and I am excited to partner with AeroFarms.”

-Lynda Kiernan  

Lynda Kiernan is Editor with GAI Media and daily contributor to GAI News. If you would like to submit a contribution for consideration, please contact Ms. Kiernan at lkiernan@globalaginvesting.com.

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