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IGS partners with ReFarm on game-changing GigaFarm in Dubai

IGS partners with ReFarm on game-changing GigaFarm in Dubai

A statement from Colin Campbell, Hutton Chief Executive, about the news from Intelligent Growth Solutions who have this week signed a deal to supply 200 IGS Growth Towers to the UAE as part of Giga Farm (2 billion plants grown every year). The announcement was made at COP28.

"This is a big success story for Scottish based innovation.  A lot of the innovation story starts a long time ago with invention of LED lights at St. Andrews university and the IGS founder Henry Ackroyd who was an innovative farmer dreaming of using them for growing plants. Decades later he started working with talented engineer Dave Scott and they came up with the technology that is today in the IGS Tower. They co-located with us with five staff at our site at Invergowrie and they have grown to around 250 people now.

The James Hutton Institute, and in particular the hosted innovation centre, Advanced Plant Growth Centre, has been a collaborative partners with Intelligent Solutions since their inception. We have worked intimately with them since their co-location at our campus in Invergowrie in terms of plant and crop science and production sustainability based on their state-of-the-art vertical farms and this continues into competitively funded projects and PhD students.

Their location with us gave them scientific back up, added credibility with investors, and confidence that with our challenges to them, our advice on pragmatic solutions on how to grow plants and scientific analysis of plants to optimise lighting have helped them to be a success. SGOV were landlords at the time and helped in accommodating them here and Scottish Enterprise have client managed them and helped enormously. We have in turn learned a huge amount from them about vertical farming, business, investment strategies and how to run a successful startup. Their collegiate approach, knowledge and experience has been very much appreciated and their attitude and approach has been an inspiration to us.

The scientific needs of this new industry are large. In turn their presence here helped land the Tay Cities Deal investment in the APGC (£27m) and has stimulated many research proposals with Innovate UK and others. We had three bids into the BBSRC Controlled Environment Agriculture bid recently and all three were successful, two of them with IGS Ltd.

This story is an ideal example of the economic impact and stimulus we can have as a publicly funded organisation and how the public and private sector can work together. It has also helped change the culture at the Hutton since they arrived, we now have nine additional co-located partners. We have also helped develop the Orkney Community Vertical Farm that will democratise and socialise the technology for a remote community there who are very dependent on unreliable external shipping supplies. We have a site at Kirkwall harbour now to be powered directly by the wind turbine.

So many people have helped IGS on this journey and we are delighted that their excellence is crop-based food production technology has been recognised in this manner. I want to acknowledge everyone’s help and pay tribute to IGS partners for their ingenuity, hard work and great partner working.

We look forward to continuing this mutually beneficial collaboration as we both see vertical farming as an increasingly import and integrated part of the global food production platforms especially in a changing climate."

Read more on this story on the IGS website. 

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The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.