The round was led by Fidelity Management & Research Company LLC with significant follow-on investment from existing investors GV (formerly Google Ventures), General Catalyst, GGV Capital, Temasek, Groupe Artémis (Pinault-owned), as well as new participation from Amplo and Gaingels, a fund representing the LGBTQ community and allies.
Individual celebrity investors and plant-based eating advocates, Lewis Hamilton, Chris Paul, and Natalie Portman, as well as chef and hunger advocate José Andrés and singer-songwriter Justin Timberlake, also participated in the funding round.
The company is now valued at $2.3bn, estimates Fidelity Management & Research Company.
“This infusion of new capital from Fidelity, other new investors, and the additional support of our long-term investor partners is acknowledgement of the critical need for new solutions to our current agricultural system, and the enormous economic opportunity that comes with supporting our mission,” said Irving Fain, CEO and founder of Bowery Farming.
“This funding not only fuels our continued expansion but the ongoing development of our proprietary technology, which sits at the core of our business and our ability to rapidly and efficiently scale towards an increasingly important opportunity in front of us.”
Bowery has registered more than 750% retail growth since January 2020 and is now stocked in over 850 grocery stores including Albertsons Companies (Safeway and Acme), Giant Food, Walmart and Whole Foods Market, and has more than quadrupled e-commerce sales through e-commerce platforms, including Amazon Fresh.
Smart farm expansion
With sights set on reinventing and simplifying the supply chain for leafy greens and fresh produce, Bowery will use the funds to accelerate its expansion of smart indoor farms to bring additional crops beyond leafy greens to market.
“Bowery’s approach to indoor farming represents a meaningful disruption to the traditional produce supply chain, and its systems-based approach to engineering and farm design is unparalleled,” noted Andy Wheeler, general partner at GV.
The company’s indoor farms are powered by its proprietary BoweryOS technology — ‘the central nervous system of the business’ — which integrates software, hardware, sensors, computer vision systems, AI and robotics to orchestrate and automate the entirety of operations.
Each new farm is up and running in “record speed” collecting billions of data points that would take traditional farmers hundreds of years to gather, claims the company.
In January 2021, Injong Rhee (formerly VP at Google and CTO of Samsung Mobile) joined Bowery as chief technology officer to oversee the seamless integration and ongoing development of technology across the growing network.
Tomatoes, root vegetables, and strawberries to come
Earlier this month, the company opened Farm X, its innovation hub for plant science in Kearny, New Jersey, which expanded R&D capacity by 300%.
Farm X is the company’s first-of-its-kind in-house breeding program and research lab, enabling Bowery to accelerate the commercial timelines for bringing next generation crops to consumers, from strawberries and root vegetables, to tomatoes, cucumbers and more.
Bowery is currently transforming an industrial site in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, into its largest, most technologically advanced and sustainable to date expanding its reach into further into the Northeast and Pennsylvania region.
The company said it is actively identifying new indoor farm locations in the US with an eye towards global expansion.