BrightFarms Accelerates Indoor Farming Innovation Tenfold With Formation Of R&D Hub
IRVINGTON, N.Y., JULY 7, 2021 – BrightFarms, the leading grower of indoor leafy greens, announced the formation of BrightLabs, a world-class innovation and research hub launching at its Ohio growing facility. Matt Lingard, PhD, a former Bayer plant scientist with over 15 years of experience working at the intersection of biotechnology and greenhouse science, will lead the BrightLabs team as Vice President of Agriculture and Science.
“The indoor farming industry is at an inflection point as local, indoor-farmed produce becomes a priority for retailers and consumers. Among competitors, we’ve developed the most profitable model for the production of indoor leafy greens, but it’s essential that we maintain our market advantage to stay ahead of the curve,” said Steve Platt, BrightFarms CEO. “We’ve built up a team of the best minds in indoor agriculture to officially launch BrightLabs, where we’ll develop the next phase of game-changing products and technology solutions for our operations.”
BrightLabs is one of the most advanced biotechnology ventures in the indoor farming industry, with a key focus on developing proprietary & patented ecosystems for plants to thrive, increasing their flavor, yields and texture in the process. The team will be comprised of the strongest minds from the food and agriculture industry, bringing together experts in technology, microbiology and plant science to deliver breakthrough innovations in the salad category and beyond.
“No other indoor farming company is studying a plant’s microbiome, the naturally occurring bacteria that help determine its health, to the same degree that we are,” said Lingard. “Instead of pouring dollars into artificial lighting research, we’re developing cutting-edge biotechnology solutions to out-maneuver our competition with the most productive indoor farms in the industry. There’s no question that high-tech greenhouses that leverage natural sunshine have emerged as the most promising new generation of agriculture technologies, and optimizing the microbiome will allow us to unlock even more of a plant’s natural potential in our indoor farms.”
This multi-million dollar R&D investment is launching as part of the company’s $100MM Series E Fundraise led by Cox Enterprises, and represents a tenfold increase in the company’s research capabilities. Ten percent of the company is now dedicated to developing complex, patented growing solutions to be applied to BrightFarms’ burgeoning network of greenhouses.
Already known for proprietary research on growing spinach in a hydroponic system, BrightLabs aims to double its production of the crop, which is the industry’s best-selling tender leaf variety. BrightFarms will also build on the success of its best-selling Sunny Crunch variety with a new, industry-first antioxidant-rich lettuce, NutriGreens, set for release this June. BrightOS, the company’s award-winning proprietary data system, will help the BrightLabs team accelerate their research with machine learning and advanced data analysis.
BrightFarms’ five greenhouses – located in Ohio, Virginia, Illinois, Pennsylvania and North Carolina – cover 1.2 million square feet and produce 9 million pounds of fresh lettuce annually. By the end of 2021, BrightFarms leafy greens will be available at over 3,500 stores, more than any indoor farming company in the industry.
BrightFarms is the leading provider of locally grown packaged salads, serving the freshest, tastiest and most responsibly grown produce to consumers nationwide. BrightFarms operates hydroponic greenhouse farms in the communities it serves, enabling it to eliminate time, distance, and costs from the food supply chain. BrightFarms’ growing methods, a model for the future of scalable, sustainable local farming, use far less energy, land and water than long distance, field-grown agriculture. Forbes has recognized BrightFarms as one of the “100 Most Consumer Centric Companies” and Fast Company has recognized BrightFarms as “One of World’s 50 Most Innovative Companies” and one of the “Top 10 Most Innovative Companies in Food.” BrightFarms is funded by leading investors Cox Enterprises, Catalyst Investors, WP Global Partners and NGEN Partners.