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(English) Russian-founded startup secures $4 million to spread high-tech farming across cities of the world

26 августа 2020

(English)

iFarm, a startup founded in Siberia but now headquartered in Helsinki, Finland, has secured $4 million from an international pool of investors led by Gagarin Capital. This California-based VC firm had led a previous $1 million round in early 2019.

iFarm’s turnkey solutions “enable anyone to grow fresh vegetables, berries, greens and edible flowers for personal use or commercial purposes.”

Among the startup’s offers are vertical farms for indoor agriculture. This technology implies a highly controlled indoor environment, using artificial lighting to power all-year-round agriculture – but allowing urban farmers to grow plants without pesticides.

iFarm has also designed automated all-year-round greenhouses from 100 to 1000 sq.m. as well as growing trays “for growing greens and strawberry right in your restaurant or grocery.”

The company told TechCrunch that its systems “involve a range of technologies to monitor and automate crop care.” Applying computer vision and machine learning, these systems “draw on data on thousands of plants collected from a distributed network of farms.”

“The main thing is the software that combines optimization systems like humidity, temperature, CO2 etc; and some business separations — like why, how, when we start growing, which clients,” co-founder and CEO Max Chizhov said in his exchange with the US publication.

“It’s like a CRM plus an ERP system that controls all the parameters,” he added.

iFarm’s first experimental projects were completed in 2017. The company now claims to manage 50 projects in Europe, the Middle-East, Russia and neighboring countries.

Earlier this year iFarm was distinguished as “Europe’s Hottest Ag/FoodTech startup” at The Europas contest.

Alongside Gagarin Capital, several major investors were involved in iFarm’s latest round. These are Impulse VC, a venture fund which is reportedly affiliated to Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich; IMI.VC and Matrix Capital, two other investors with Russian connections; and several business angels including Qiwi co-founder Boris Kim.

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