Indoor farming is a new darling for venture capital funds, with big recent raises for Bowery Farming, AeroFarms and others.
Japan’s SoftBank led one of the biggest yet, a $200 million round for Bay Area-based Plenty, which recently acquired Bright Agrotech, a builder of indoor growing systems for small farmers.
Vertical farming, a $2 billion industry last year, could grow to $13 billion by 2024, owing to low labor costs, lack of pesticides, high productivity and proximity to consumers.
Plenty is based in a 52,000-square foot facility where, like other vertical farms, it grows leafy greens. It is expanding into fruits and vegetables, and to Japan, China, the Middle East and other parts of the U.S. Softbank made the investment from its $93 billion (yes, with a ‘b’) Vision Fund for technologies addressing “the biggest challenges and risks facing humanity today.”
Softbank was joined by Bezos Expeditions, Innovation Endeavors, Chinese venture capital firm DCM and others.