This interview details Innovation Agritech Group, an indoor farming technology company based in the UK. The interview is with Jaz Singh, Founder & CEO of Innovation Agritech Group.
What is the origin story of Innovation Agritech Group (IAG)?
I founded Innovation Agritech Group in 2017 after witnessing the rapid depletion of arable land in India due to traditional farming practices and chemical usage. I was haunted by the statistics surrounding agriculture and food production, which motivated me to find a solution... I went on to explore alternative methods and discovered indoor vertical growing.
After six years of rigorous research and development and working alongside our expert team of leading UK manufacturers, engineers, and scientists, we developed our patented flagship product: the GrowFrame360™, which is our turnkey aeroponic vertical farming system that directly addresses the global food supply crisis.
The GrowFrame360™ is a modular, scalable vertical farming system, that is equipped with a closed-loop aeroponic irrigation system, meaning growers can grow cleaner, healthier crops, all while using no soil, sunlight, or pesticides and 98% less water than traditional farming methods.
What are some of the biggest challenges facing IAG in the future?
We’re all experiencing the rising cost of living, and there is no shying away from the rising energy and operations costs. At IAG, we are fully committed to addressing these issues proactively. In fact, we have already taken significant steps to support our clients by implementing alternative energy sources that go beyond traditional grid reliance. Solar, wind, and geothermal are to name but a few of the innovative energy solutions available, and we support the clients with the right energy solution based on their needs and weather conditions, which is key not only from an expense standpoint but also to empower them to contribute to a greener and more sustainable future.
Another challenge that we’re facing is building confidence in vertical farming. As a relatively new concept, a lack of knowledge may present obstacles to widespread adoption. Resistance to change within the traditional farming industry as well as misinformation also play a part in consumer perceptions of vertical farming. It is, therefore, the responsibility of vertical farming companies, like ourselves, to ensure we are always delivering accurate and meaningful information. This is something we take very seriously at IAG, as we understand the importance of credibility within the innovative farming space.
What is unique about IAG compared to competitors?
What makes us unique is our innovative GrowFrame360™ aeroponic vertical farming systems. Unlike other vertical farms, our system utilizes vertical grow panels with double-sided growing to optimize space usage, resulting in higher crop yields per square foot. Our system can achieve up to 17 harvest cycles per year, depending on the crop. This accelerated harvest frequency not only increases overall productivity but also provides growers with greater flexibility and quicker turnaround times in meeting market demands.
We use aeroponic irrigation, where the design of our panels ensures roots are suspended and exposed to oxygen, and nutrient-rich water is misted directly onto the plant roots. This ensures efficient growth and superior crop quality. This unique approach also allows for a wider range of crops to be cultivated, providing growers with increased accessibility and market opportunities.
We can also ensure smooth expansion for our clients while minimizing costs and maintaining productivity. Scaling up operations can be challenging for agritech companies, due to the designs of their vertical farms, and the associated costs. As the population continues to grow, so will the demand for fresh produce. To effectively expand operations to meet the demands, there needs to be careful planning and management. Our modular and scalable design enables customized farming solutions that can be expanded gradually which will reduce initial investment risks and accommodate future growth.
Additionally, our collaboration with experts, ranging from engineers and manufacturers to academics, ensures that our solutions remain at the forefront of agricultural innovation. By leveraging this collective expertise, we’re continually refining our technology, improving crop quality, and enhancing its offerings.
How do you measure the impact of IAG so far? (Revenue, Employees, Customer Quantity) etc?
Everything we do and every decision we make as a company is grounded in our 10 company values, and we use these 10 values as a benchmark for evaluating our impact and success. Our values include innovation, agility, sustainability, integrity, customer orientation, quality, accessibility, collaboration, enthusiasm, and growth focus. Evaluating our alignment with these values provides insights into our commitment to driving agritech breakthroughs, prioritizing environmental concerns, delivering high-quality solutions, and fostering collaboration and growth within the industry.
We're fortunate to have a close collaboration with renowned academic institutions. We’re working with the University of Essex, where they will be installing a GrowFrame into their Smart Technology Experimental Plant Suite. This partnership will allow us to assist in conducting cutting-edge research and development in the field of intelligent agriculture, leading to remarkable advancements in sustainable farming practices and educating the next generation of scientists.
Our strong pipeline speaks volumes about our progress, too. We're currently engaged in talks with various stakeholders globally, including supermarkets and restaurants, who are keen on growing their own fresh produce with our innovative solutions.
If we look internally, our employee growth is an important aspect to consider in the impact of IAG. We have been scaling up our operations at the company and employing professionals from diverse backgrounds and experiences. Since 2020, our company has experienced impressive three-fold employee growth, demonstrating our tremendous progress and expanding workforce. This expansion of our workforce provides insights into our ability to attract and retain talent and indicates a positive impact on job creation within the agritech sector.
We also compare the impact of our aeroponic vertical farming technology against traditional farming methods. We evaluate against key indicators such as our yield per square meter, water consumption, and land space. Our technology demonstrates higher yields, reduced water consumption, and more efficient land utilization compared to traditional farming methods, which signifies a positive impact on agricultural productivity, resource efficiency, and sustainability.
What have you learned that you wish you knew when you joined or started the company?
When reflecting on my experience at the company, one key learning stands out above all: the importance of hiring people with passion and adaptability. Given the newness of this industry, it is near impossible to find individuals with a specific background in vertical farming. However, what truly matters is identifying people who possess a genuine passion for the work and a strong willingness to learn and adapt. Instead of solely relying on prior experience, we have come to understand the significance of finding professionals from different specialist areas, such as plant scientists and engineers, who can bring their expertise and contribute to the growth of the company. By focusing on individuals who are eager to learn and adapt, we have built a team capable of navigating the challenges and opportunities of this rapidly evolving industry.
Another critical lesson I have learned is that all good things take time. In our case, we dedicated over six years to research and development (R&D) to ensure that our technology was perfected before launching. While the timeline for R&D exceeded our initial expectations, we have no regrets about the extra time invested. It became evident that launching prematurely, before the technology was 100% ready, would have been detrimental to our customer experience and satisfaction. By patiently refining our product, we were able to guarantee that our customers receive a high-quality offering. This emphasis on customer-centricity has become an integral part of our company's ethos.
We have discovered that no two customers are the same in our industry. Each customer comes with their own unique set of requirements and preferences when it comes to vertical farming solutions. As a result, constructing proposals for each customer's specific needs demands a substantial amount of time and effort. We have recognized the need for customization and tailored approaches for our clients. Rather than relying on a one-size-fits-all model, we invest the necessary resources to understand and address the individual requirements of each customer. This commitment to personalized service has allowed us to stand out in the market and cater to a wide range of customers with diverse needs.
How can people connect with you or learn more about IAG?
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