David Farquhar


Sponsored by: Clydesdale Bank

When Scottish farmer Henry Aykroyd wanted to build a vertical farm, he found them prohibitively expensive. So together with engineer Dave Scott, the two launched their vision to revolutionise the indoor growing market and grow a range of high quality crops 12 months of the year

Fast forward seven years and their company, Intelligent Growth Solutions (IGS), has invested £7m in research and development, raised another £7m and has 16 patents on their technologies.

Now led by chief executive David Farquhar, IGS designs and delivers vertical farms and greenhouse lighting for farmers and growers around the world, with the aim of revolutionising the indoor growing market. Assistance is also available to support with financial planning and to advise on infrastructure services (energy, water and internet) the farm will require.

IGS specialises in Total Control Environment Agriculture (TCEA), which controls every aspect of the climate, including light, wind, rain, nutrition and temperature.

Sustainable growth

The technology enables crops to be given ‘recipes’ of climatic conditions to achieve certain characteristics, such as size, number and flavor, optimizing yield, quality and consistency.

The software can be programmed to run multiple growth cycles concurrently to produce mixed crops, or one crop variety in stages.

The vertical farm itself is comprised of low-cost growing trays that are controlled automatically using cloud-based management software and sensors, enabling farmers to scale up as their business grows.

Producing food sustainably is a central aim of the company. To minimise energy use, they have a patented technology that converts electricity from the grid into extra-low voltage for use in the vertical farms. Intelligent irrigations and multi-spectral lighting also only delivers the light plants need

“Customers’ trials show the systems can generate yields of 225% compared to glasshouse production, with the potential to reduce energy usage by up to 50% and labour costs by up to 80% versus other indoor growing environments,” says Mr Brown.