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BrightFarms, a grower of indoor leafy greens, has set up BrightLabs, an innovation and research hub at its Ohio growing facility. The lab’s main focus will be on biotech research and increasing yields thus developing next phase solutions for its profitable model.
N.Y.-based BrightFarms opened an R&D lab to accelerate its indoor farming innovation by tenfold. The company focuses on developing proprietary and patented ecosystems for plants to grow. In the process, the flavour, yields and texture of the plants are increased.
R&D team of experts
The lab will be led by the company’s new vice president of agriculture and science, Matt Lingard, PhD. He is a former Bayer plant scientist with more than 15 years of experience working in the areas where biotechnology and greenhouse science intersect.
His team will have minds from the food and agriculture industry. It will even have experts from the technology, microbiology and plant science fields. They will be dedicated to biotech research which will help drive the expansion and growth for the business and the plants and deliver solutions in the salad category and beyond.
CEO of BrightFarms, Steve Platt said that the indoor farming industry is at an “inflection point as local, indoor-farmed produce becomes a priority for retailers and consumers”. “Among competitors, we’ve developed the most profitable model for the production of indoor leafy greens, but it’s essential that we maintain our market advantage to stay ahead of the curve. We’ve built up a team of the best minds in indoor agriculture to officially launch BrightLabs, where we’ll develop the next phase of game-changing products and technology solutions for our operations.”
The indoor farming industry is at an inflection point as local, indoor-farmed produce becomes a priority for retailers and consumersSteve Platt, CEO of BrightFarms
Tenfold increase in innovation
The multi-million dollar R&D lab launched as a part of the company’s US$100M+ capital raised in its Series E round led by Cox Enterprises. This signifies a tenfold increase in its research capabilities. Plus, 10% of the company is developing complex, patented growing solutions which will be applied to BrightFarms’ network of greenhouses.
The company’s five greenhouses are situated in Ohio, Virginia, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina. They cover a total of 1.2 million square feet and produce 9 million pounds of fresh lettuce each year.
A plant’s microbiome – key to BrightFarms
Lingard added: “No other indoor farming company is studying a plant’s microbiome, the naturally occurring bacteria that help determine its health, to the same degree that we are. Instead of pouring dollars into artificial lighting research, we’re developing cutting-edge biotechnology solutions to out-maneuver our competition with the most productive indoor farms in the industry. There’s no question that high-tech greenhouses that leverage natural sunshine have emerged as the most promising new generation of agriculture technologies, and optimizing the microbiome will allow us to unlock even more of a plant’s natural potential in our indoor farms.”
We’ve built up a team of the best minds in indoor agriculture to officially launch BrightLabs, where we’ll develop the next phase of game-changing products and technology solutions for our operationsSteve Platt, CEO of BrightFarms
There’s no question that high-tech greenhouses that leverage natural sunshine have emerged as the most promising new generation of agriculture technologies, and optimizing the microbiome will allow us to unlock even more of a plant’s natural potential in our indoor farmsSteve Platt, CEO of BrightFarms
Furthermore, the team will make use of machine learning and advanced data analysis in its research through the company’s award-winning proprietary data system BrightOS.
The company is famous for its proprietary research on growing spinach in a hydroponic system. BrightLabs will look to double the production of this crop. In addition, it has banked on the success of its Sunny Crunch variety by releasing a novel, antioxidant-rich lettuce, NutriGreens.
Currently, its products are present in 2,500+ stores. By the end of 2021, it aims to expand its leafy greens to 3500+ stores.
Elsewhere, another U.S.-based indoor urban farming company Square Roots focuses on incorporating modular farm technology. In doing so, it supports farmers and provides fresh produce like basil, cilantro, dill, and parsley to consumers.
David Lee, former chief financial officer at the plant-based meat pioneer Impossible Foods joined agri-tech startup AppHarvest. He will accelerate their indoor farming solutions and realise their ambition of becoming a “sustainable foods company”.
Lead image courtesy of BrightFarms.