GrowPura has secured a £4.5 million local growth fund from the South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership (SEMLEP) towards their new £22.5m vertical hydroponics growing and demonstrator facility, set for build and completion in 2021.
The funding firmly cements GrowPura’s plans for this ambitious facility and paves the way for the next phase which seeks planning approval and job creation for the area as GrowPura spearheads the sector with new vertical farming technology, that is set to disrupt the industry for all the right reasons.
The commercial scale demonstrator facility incorporating new and innovative farming techniques will also see a training function and product development capability for companies in the UK and for application worldwide. The new facility will be based at Colworth Park in Bedfordshire and will partner with South East Midlands college providers for apprenticeship provision as well as creating 73 new jobs by 2025, 130 new apprenticeships and 65 businesses assisted by 2030.
CEO of GrowPura, Nick Bateman said: “The UK Agritech industry is growing at pace and we are delighted to be a part of it. However, as emphasised by Michael Gove MP, it is important to consider the allocation of capital within the industry and its ability to create efficient and effective outcomes that meet the challenges faced by society. We have faced and addressed all those challenges with the innovative moving technology we have developed that ensures significantly lower capital and operating costs whilst the green and clean growing conditions ensure zero wastage and maximum top quality produce all year round.
“In relation to food, vertical hydroponics has the potential to contribute enormously to UK food security as well as addressing other issues of food waste, carbon emissions, land use efficiency, and food safety and we at GrowPura have tackled these issues, and more, head on. We would like to thank SEMLEP for their support and having confidence in us to make the changes that consumers and industry demand in what is set to become a vibrant ecosystem of producers and suppliers.”
With the injection of additional funding from SEMLEP GrowPura will build a facility which will grow plants in a high care controlled environment. The facility will showcase their vertical conveyor system technology that continually moves plants past sources of light, as well as their sophisticated irrigation and monitoring technology; all of which is housed within a clean room environment to ensure the highest quality and yield.
Nick added: “Our industrial scale systems for large production numbers ensure our plants are constantly moving. The conveyor allows us to move the product around, providing phenomenal flexibility and reducing the demand on our irrigation and lighting infrastructure, to ensure we make the most efficient use of all the assets which in turn ensures a low cost, high reliability crop.
“In a 2014 speech by the EU’s Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, food security was presented as one of the greatest challenges of our time. This is now even more pressing with the challenges of Brexit looming large for agriculture but surprisingly there has been little or no advances that respond to these challenges; that is until GrowPura pledged its commitment to the industry with its innovative vertical farming hydroponic solutions and intuitive technology.”
Hilary Chipping Chief Executive SEMLEP said, “This is a very exciting project, and we’re delighted to support GrowPura to showcase what can be achieved by embedding innovative ideas, technologies and processes into our key industries. Businesses like GrowPura and the network of science and innovation parks across the South East Midlands area have an important role in creating and exporting best practice to shape the country’s new greener economy.”