Intelligent Growth Solutions (IGS) was a finalist in the 2020 Best British Tech Pioneer (BBTP) competition thanks to its innovative vertical farms. We caught up with CEO David Farquhar to hear the company’s story.
David was looking forward to pursuing his passions of mountaineering, cooking and coaching rugby when he retired in 2016. But then he received a phone call from a former colleague whose father was working on an agritech project near Dundee.
“They were at the early stages of establishing a controlled-environment agriculture business. I was blown away when I saw it,” David recalls. “There’s not much that could get me out of retirement, but if we got this right, it had the potential to help solve global issues.”
David explains that climate change is working against our ability to feed a global population of around 8 billion people. “We’re halving the amount of arable land that’s available,” he says. “It’s ironic really. Agriculture is the biggest cause of climate change. And climate change is making it harder for us to grow the food we need.”
Not enough room? Look up
The company's answer to this problem was vertical farms. “That’s growing crops in stacked layers, using technology to precisely control levels of light, water, minerals and more,” explains David. “That enables you to grow in an urban environment.”
A vertical farm can be located almost anywhere, including on disused industrial land. “We can put this land to good use and bring the point of production much closer to the point of consumption – cutting down massively on our carbon footprint,” says David.
Supporting rapid growth
IGS started to grow rapidly, moving quickly past the start-up phase. But like many fast-growing businesses, it then faced the challenge of securing the next round of funding. “That’s where KPMG’s Emerging Giants team came in,” says David.
KPMG became aware of IGS when they entered the Best British Tech Pioneer 2020 competition and made it through to the UK finals. Since then, we’ve been helping the company understand how it can accelerate growth. “Our relationship with KPMG has given us access to expertise in corporate finance and tax,” says David. “It’s meant we’ve been able to scale up and ensure we’re fit for the future.”
David’s vision is to see vertical farms in every major urban economy around the world. “We’re proud of what we’ve achieved – it’s British technology in action. We’re helping to collapse the food supply chain and remove waste, and we’re championing the use of renewable energy in agriculture.”