Finance specialist helps with £4m fund raise for hi-tech food producer

Vertical Farming

A North West finance firm has advised in a £4m fundraise for a growing hi-tech London-based food producer.

Vertical Future raised £4m of equity finance, with further investment expected in the coming months.

Grown in the capital and delivered by bicycle and electric van, the company uses technology to produce high-quality, ethical food – primarily baby leaf vegetables and herbs – in controlled environments.

Vertical farming is a term associated with growing crops all year round, usually without soil or natural light, in beds stacked vertically inside a controlled-environment building.

The firm also develops efficient and sustainable methods of food production and supply systems, with a long-term commitment to improving health and reducing CO2 emissions in cities.

“Following several years of hard work, today’s raise validates our growth strategy and strong position in the London market, furthering our mission to improve the food and health of urban inhabitants, starting in London,” said Jamie Burrows, founder and chief executive of Vertical Future.

The capital raised will be used to support the first phase of Vertical Future’s long-term, ambitious growth strategy.

The company will see a 25x increase in crop production capacity across its London operations, aided by the development of two new ethical plant factories in London Fields and Mayfair, as well as further developing its existing site in Deptford.

The investment round was led by Earthworm Capital, a fast-growing impact investor with a portfolio across food, energy and waste, and supported by corporate finance adviser, Acceleris Capital, which operates from Wigan and Alderley Edge.

Also supporting the raise was Amberley Advisory and Gateley.

Ben Prior Earthworm chief executive, said: “Vertical farming offers huge potential in solving one of the biggest issues of our time – how to feed a growing population sustainably.

“We are really impressed with Jamie’s vision and work ethic, and the team at Vertical Future has a very special business poised for growth.”

Simon Thorn, Acceleris chief executive, said: “We are delighted to complete this transaction with Jamie and the team at Vertical Future.

“We believe that we have secured an excellent investment partner in Earthworm and we look forward to supporting the company’s growth over the coming years.

“The team have attracted an impressive customer base so far and we see plenty of areas for growth.”

Lord Nigel Crisp, former head of the NHS and non-executive board member at Vertical Future, added: “This is our first major move in this sector, enabling us to direct our work more towards health, in addition to purely producing food, in future years.

“Sustainable food will be one of society’s biggest health challenges and we aim to be at the forefront of the effort for better, long-lasting, tangible solutions.”

The fund raise will strengthen Vertical Future’s ability to produce significantly more crops as they target a 10x increase in its B2B restaurant business as well as an expansion of the direct to customer business, both sold under the MiniCrops brand.

Current restaurant customers include Quaglino’s, Tom’s Kitchen, Mindful Chef, Chop’d, Kaleido, Sartoria, Lahpet, and more than 100 other dining establishments across London.

Giles Humphries, co-founder of Mindful Chef, said: “We’re super excited to be working with a similarly fast-paced, high-growth business such as Vertical Future. We’ve been through that journey and we can see exactly where they are going.”