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Innovate UK EDGE support stacks up for vertical farming firm

Young plants in a vertical farm

Bristol’s Greener Greens Co’s connected network of modular vertical farms will provide readily available high-quality microgreens, herbs and garnishes across Europe. The vertical farming company has developed more robust financial forecasting, refined its grant funding strategy and become investment ready, all with support from Innovate UK EDGE.

The Greener Greens Co’s network is enabling the delivery of products up to 30x faster and fresher than competitors while dramatically shortening the food miles involved in providing high quality food products to top chefs. 

“Provisioning high-end microgreens, herbs, and garnishes currently incurs massive cost, quality, and environmental penalties,” says Jamie Taylor, Founder, The Greener Greens, “the current supply chain is broken.

“Lack of local availability means customers source goods from far away growers, leading to reduced product freshness, short shelf-life, and up to 5000+ food miles per order.

“Awareness of the environmental impact of our actions and processes is ubiquitous – people demand a responsible, environmentally friendly solution wherever possible.

“A distributed supply chain built on smart farm technology can facilitate hyper-local growing and delivery of high-end produce while reducing high associated carbon footprint.”

The Greener Greens aims to site its modular vertical farms in key cities across Europe and will supply retailers, high-end chefs and even superyachts with fresher, more sustainable garnishes. 

“Instead of growing this highly perishable produce and hoping it sells, we will enable customers to order ahead using our purpose-built software, so we can meet each customer’s demand. This allows us to optimise our value chains while eradicating food waste.”

The Greener Greens Co has completed a proof-of-concept phase with a local Bristol-based supplier of vertical farming solutions and is now scaling up its operations with support from the University of the West of England. 

Innovate UK EDGE Innovation and Growth Specialist James Snelgrove supported The Greener Greens through this initial growth phase, focusing primarily on its investment readiness strategy. 

Financial modelling

James introduced Innovate UK EDGE specialist Simon Thompson, who helped The Greener Greens refine its five-year financial forecast. 

“Simon’s support has been critical,” says Jamie. “His financial models projected a more modest short-term profit line than my own models – which was a bit of a shock at first – but it was interesting to see how he’d factored in more potential wastage and a longer run up time before we could reach 100% operational capacity.

“Overall, it’s allowed us to build a much more robust growth plan and better understand what investment we need to raise in order to build the farms, establish the software and hardware and hire the right people. 

“It’s really helped us to iron out some key flaws that a savvy investor would have spotted.”

Grant funding support 

Innovate UK EDGE Innovation and Growth Specialist Adele Reynolds was also introduced to help The Greener Greens review its grant funding strategy. 

“Adele’s a really straight shooter – she understood where the business was, where it needed to be and how we could get there.”

Adele presented The Greener Greens with a range of grant funding opportunities but recommended that the company focuses instead on revenue generation. 

“That was a really important intervention,” says Jamie. “We were able to gain a very realistic picture of how long a grant application would take, its chances of success and how much we could raise if we focused instead on generating revenue.” 

Investment readiness support 

The Greener Greens next joined Innovate UK EDGE’s investment readiness scheme Pitchfest as part of its wraparound support and began work with Innovate UK EDGE Innovation and Growth Specialist Ed Tellwright. 

“Pitchfest covered everything you’d need to know about raising investment. I learned a lot about due diligence, how to construct a data room for investment and how to identify investor profiles i.e., deciding how large a syndicate of investors we were targeting and whether we were SEIS eligible. 

“It’s put us in a very strong position as we work towards our first funding round.”

Innovate UK EDGE: responsive, proactive support for this pioneering vertical farming firm

Reflecting on his support journey with his Innovation and Growth Specialist, James Snelgrove, Jamie says: “James’ knowledge of local networks, his proactiveness and his availability all made him a hugely valuable contact.

“I work at quite a fast pace and James is happy to match that – he’s introduced me to some great contacts and provided a lot of useful information. 

“One of the great things about Innovate UK EDGE’s support is that you can choose where to allocate your time – so I could highlight any weaknesses or areas of concern and James would bring in a relevant specialist – it’s been great.” 

Innovate UK EDGE will continue to support as this Bristol innovator slashes food miles and delivers fresher ingredients to chefs across Europe. 

One of the great things about Innovate UK EDGE’s support is that you can choose where to allocate your time – so I could highlight any weaknesses or areas of concern and James would bring in a relevant specialist – it’s been great.” 

Jamie Taylor, Founder, The Greener Greens Co