IGS has, as a company, focused from the outset on automation, intelligent system design, and the energy equation of CEA vertical farming. This has garnered them a reputation as one of the leading and most innovative companies in the industry. Farmtech society took some time to have a chat with them and find out a bit more about how this all works in practice.
Hello and thanks for taking the time to talk with us. Can you briefly introduce IGS, its history as well as its outlook?
IGS was founded in 2013 bringing together decades of farming and engineering experience with a vision to revolutionise the indoor growing market. The two founders, farmer Henry Aykroyd and our CTO Dave Scott, had an appetite for innovation and realised that there were significant gaps in the provision of scalable technology for the sector.
Henry knew how to grow and understood the challenges which faced traditional farming: Dave knew how to manage automation and power controls in an industrial environment. The opportunity to bring greater climate control to a growing environment was significant. The ability to manage power consumption was revolutionary. The simplicity of its implementation and use is pivotal.
We opened our first vertical farm demonstrator in Scotland in 2018. Artificial intelligence determines optimal nutritional input and the exact combination or ‘recipes’ of weather: lighting, watering and ventilation. Data is collected continuously and machine learning used to make iterative adjustments, all of which is monitored through a web-based app. The whole Intelligent Growth platform is IOT-enabled to automate system control and management. Our degree of control is so fine that each 6m2 growth tray has its own microclimate. Technical simplicity is at the heart of our mechanical design.
Our commitment to innovation has continued apace and we have evolved the applications of our technology beyond agriculture to create solutions for a wide variety of indoor environments, developing the Intelligent Grid platform.
The Intelligent Grid uses the same IOT-enabled power and controls platform to manage and monitor lights, sensors, cameras and communications for complete climate control and reporting. It too has a very simple, clean and elegant design for application in any commercial building, greenhouse or livestock shed. In contrast to the vertical farm we use our same core technology through the Intelligent Grid to create whole-space macroclimates.
Both IGS demonstrators are based at the James Hutton Institute, a world-renowned crop and plant science research facility. IGS and the Hutton collaborate closely to help advance the understanding of plant science for indoor growing.
Until 2018 IGS had invested approximately £7m in R&D to ensure that its platforms offered the greatest levels of control and achieved levels of economic viability, scale and minimal environmental impact compared to other systems on the market. In 2019 IGS raised £7 million in institutional capital to enter production and take its systems to global markets. We continue to invest over £1m per annum in R&D.
Read more at Farm Tech Society.