Bayer and Temasek announced the joint investment and formation of a new company, Unfold. Unfold will focus on innovation in vegetable varieties. It will be a U.S. entity headquartered in Davis, CA, USA, with commercial and research and development operations in California and Singapore. John Purcell will be the chief executive officer (CEO).
According to the companies, they aim at lifting the vertical farming space to the next level of quality, efficiency, and sustainability. Most start-ups in the vertical farming market are focusing on the development of more efficient infrastructure. Unfold wants to use the seed genetics (germplasm) from vegetable crops, to develop new seed varieties coupled with agronomic advice tailored for the unique indoor environment of vertical farms. This area is currently largely under-served.
Unfold raised USD 30 million in the initial funding round and entered into an agreement for certain rights to germplasm from Bayer’s vegetable portfolio.
Vertical farms are also known as indoor farms or plant facilities with artificial light (PFAL). They use indoor growing facilities that leverage artificial light, reduce dependency on synthetic chemistry and other crop inputs, optimize water use, and allow food growth in challenging environments with limited arable land. Vertical farms help crops grow more quickly, enabling the reliable growth of fresh, local produce anywhere, anytime using less space, and fewer natural resources while reducing the need for food logistics and transportation.