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AgriTech specialists IGS know the recipe for sustainable growth

IGS vertical farm

AgriTech specialists IGS know the recipe for sustainable growth

Intelligent Growth Solutions (IGS) is an innovative AgriTech firm based in Edinburgh. With 17 design patents and significant funding to date, the company puts sustainability at the heart of everything it does and aims to revolutionise indoor farming. Find out how our support has helped IGS engineer sustainable solutions to the challenge of rising food demand.

For some businesses, sustainability can be an afterthought, but for IGS it’s at the heart of everything it does. Not only is the company’s mission to revolutionise farming and make it more sustainable, each and every element of the business is created, developed, and operated in the most sustainable way possible.

IGS holds itself accountable to sustainability pledges by signing up to projects like Race to Zero, an initiative to bring together businesses, cities and countries to work towards a net zero future.

Given the company's innovative and sustainable ethos, it also makes sense that it's set to feature at this year’s COP26 in Glasgow.  

Read more about COP26 in Glasgow

David Farquhar CEO IGS

Innovative vertical farming

In early 2013 a farmer, Henry Aykroyd, and an engineer, Dave Scott, brought together decades of experience in their respective fields to try to develop a solution to one of the world’s greatest challenges: the rising demand for food with a limited supply of arable land at a commercially viable price. For Aykroyd and Scott the answer was simple - the way to overcome the lack of outdoor growing space, was to bring the growth indoors.

The concept of indoor farming existed long before IGS was established, but the company was behind the very first vertical farm in Scotland in 2018. With its application of innovative technology, IGS aims to revolutionise indoor growing. The company is rapidly growing its customer base both in Scotland and around the globe. 

While vertical farming, which involves stacking crops in trays indoors in a controlled environment, offers a solution where growing space is limited, it also has a number of other sustainability benefits. For example, the use of synthetic chemicals and other industrial products to maximise yields in conventional farming compromises biodiversity, soil fertility and the health of surrounding ecosystems.

IGS’s solutions remove these potentially devastating side effects by using technology in place of chemicals to optimise yield.

We've got to grow more food and we've got to do it sustainably. If we don't, we could destroy the planet that we value so much.

David Farquhar, CEO IGS

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A blend of science and agriculture

The company's unique Growth Towers provide an indoor ecosystem packed with capabilities to allow crops to thrive. Using smart technology, the towers can manage light, temperature, water, nutrients, and CO2 levels. Each of these is part of a unique ‘growth recipe’, the result of extensive data aggregation and analysis which allows for repeated successful crop production.

These recipes are automatically applied to create the perfect environment for growth all year round, and they can be adapted and amended at any time, in line with the data being collected. The result of this marriage of technology and innovation is the ability to grow almost anything, anywhere.

As well as being an answer to the issue of limited arable land, the Growth Towers also enable greater productivity (in terms of yield, quality, and consistency) and have 30-50% faster crop cycles.

IGS vertical farm

A pinch of disruption 

Accounting for 13-18% of the world’s total greenhouse gas emissions, agriculture is one of the most polluting industries in the world. We need to find sustainable solutions to halt the industry’s contribution to the climate emergency, while continuing to fulfil the food requirements of an ever-growing population.

It’s no wonder that IGS has been such a keen industry disruptor. The world needs alternative approaches to sustainable food production and it’s one of the few companies with the unique combination of science, expertise and innovation needed to create one.

A helping of support

Since its beginning in 2013, IGS has experienced strong growth and acclaim. Supported by Scottish Enterprise via our growth investments team (as a co-investor alongside experienced AgriTech investors) the company has been recognised with sustainability and innovation awards.

Support comes in many forms, not simply financial, and we’ve provided a variety of help and advice since we started working with the company in 2014. We’ve provided research services both at home and in export markets to identify new opportunities.

Our intellectual assets team have provided guidance on trademark protection, a particularly important factor considering IGS’s innovative and unique design features. We’ve offered workplace innovation support on how to effectively recruit, retain and upskill staff as well as structural alignment – an exceptionally important factor considering the rapid scale of IGS’s operations.

Through Scottish Development International (Scotland’s trade and inward investment agency) we’ve developed global connections for the company, particularly in Singapore, India, the Middle East and China, while GlobalScot has been able to provide essential networking activities, and there are also a number of GlobalScots at the company itself.

IGS is a fantastic AgriTech company and has been supported by Scottish Enterprise from an early stage of its scaling journey. The company’s investment in Scotland’s economy and in establishing a Scottish supply chain shows its commitment to considerable job creation and environmental benefits.

Alison Scott, Scottish Enterprise Account Manager

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A serving of social responsibility

While creating a more sustainable future may be the foundation of IGS’s successful business model, the company isn’t in it just for commercial success. IGS embraces an environmental ethos in its work. It understands that companies have a responsibility to help slow down the climate crisis.

This is the fundamental goal of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’s (UNFCC) Race to Zero campaign, of which IGS is a keen supporter and member.

It’s no small commitment to be a member of Race to Zero. Companies must pledge to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible and by 2050 at the latest. They must also explain, within 12 months of joining, what actions they’ll take towards this goal. Finally, they must commit to publicly reporting their progress and actions, at least annually.

As well as this, IGS is preparing to demonstrate its tech at COP26. While we can’t give away too much, we can say that it’ll be interactive, informative, and pretty fun too.

Find out more about Race to Zero on the Race to Zero website.

IGS growth trays

Mix until the future is green

The vision IGS has for the future of its business and the future of the agriculture industry is that sustainable vertical farming will be part of the future of food. But it isn’t just food that its sustainable solutions can be used for. There are applications across other crucial industries such as pharmaceuticals, research and flavouring.

With a sustainable and socially responsible ethos, ground-breaking technology, and a keen focus on innovation, IGS has the future of farming (and beyond) at its fingertips. So, watch this space to see how the company continues to grow – in all senses of the word.

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