Today at its inaugural New York event, Indoor Ag-Con unveils the industry's first robotics & automation white paper and a global event line up for 2016. Event sponsors Illumitex and PodPonics announce new multinational partnerships and new Internet of Things and "big data" technologies.

Indoor agriculture – growing produce in hydroponic, aquaponic and aeroponic systems in greenhouses, warehouses and containers – is a hot spot in global agriculture. It offers solutions to drought, food supply chain challenges and the scarcity of new farmland. Indoor Ag-Con – the US indoor agriculture’s industry’s leading conference – is today hosting its first event in New York, NY, at Helen Mills Theater in Chelsea.

The one-day seminar has seen extraordinary demand, with passes selling out some weeks ago. “We’ve seen a surge of interest in the indoor agriculture sector” commented Nicola Kerslake, founder of Newbean Capital, the owner and organizer of Indoor Ag-Con, “and our event is growing alongside it, hosting more than 500 participants from 9 countries across two events this year”. The New York event consists of twelve keynotes from the CEOs of industry leaders, including Aerofarms, Bright Farms, FarmedHere, Gotham Greens and KKR-backed Sundrop Farms, academics and technologists, such as TechCrunch Disrupt winner Agrilyst. The audience includes major farming companies, multinational supply firms such as Bayer CropSciences, and agtech investors.

With rising interest in the use of big data and robotics in the indoor agriculture space, Newbean Capital has partnered with urban farmer Local Roots to release the first ever white paper on robotics and automation in the indoor agriculture industry. It outlines a future where - thanks to the proliferation of cheap sensors and at least 54mn available plants from which to sample data – there is a wave of analytics platforms adapted for use indoors, and of user interface products that assume minimal farming knowledge, the realization of the long-held expectation that “big data” will represent the democratization of farming. Event participants receive a hard copy of the paper in their gift bags, and soft copies will be available for download from Indoor Ag-Con’s website from October 20, 2015.

The event also includes announcements from industry majors. Keynote sponsor Illumitex, LED innovator and maker of the world’s most optically advanced lighting products for horticulture, is announcing that it has launched a new division to further its mission of helping indoor growers become more profitable. The new service, entitled Hortitecture Lighting Solutions, offers beginning-to-end consultation from Illumitex’s team of world-class plant scientists. The team of experts will serve as both off- and on-site advisors where they will provide growers with the knowledge necessary to achieve maximum yield while saving energy. By decreasing the time required for research and testing by individual farmers, Hortitecture dramatically reduces the average 12-18 months farmers need to get a farm to operating capacity, allowing growers to get to profits, faster.

“Even the savviest growers need guidance to achieve the best practices in the emerging field of indoor growing,” said Paul Hardej, VP of Hortitecture Solutions at Illumitex. “Recognizing this need was our inspiration for offering a service that will guide customers through every step of the growing process using LED lighting — from planning to implementation. We will design individualized solutions for clients in multiple horticulture sectors, ensuring maximized commodity production, above and beyond the typical services provided by other LED lighting companies.”

Drinks party sponsor PodPonics is unveiling an addition to its management team in the form of former FarmedHere executive Mark Thomann, and a partnership with Sharp Electronics through which its vertical farming technologies will be available globally. These include a Cloud-based Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) platform that incorporates big data analytics, a Linux-based Internet-of-Things (IOT) autonomous system that controls growing, a lighting system that can be optimized through the ERP and IOT platforms, and Grow Pod, a shipping container-based turnkey scalable & stackable growing system.

Event participants have the opportunity to consult with representatives from lunch table sponsors Argus Controls, FarmedHere, Hort Americas, Illumitex, Johnny’s Selected Seeds, and Pentair over curated lunch tables, and to network at a drinks party sponsored by PodPonics at the end of the day.

Finally, Indoor Ag-Con is announcing an expanded line up for 2016, with events in Singapore in January, and its marquee annual event in Las Vegas in April. Microsoft is the venue sponsor for the inaugural Asia event. Newbean Capital, the host of the conferences, is a registered investment advisor; some of its clients or potential clients may participate in the conference.

Couldn't make it to NEw York today? Be sure to mark the next Indoor Ag-Con events in your agenda: