Dave Dinesen, CEO of CubicFarms, believes that we are experiencing a global crisis in food security and that technology is necessary to feed the growing global population. CubicFarm Systems Corp. is a local chain agtech company headquartered in British Columbia, Canada. The company specializes in the development of fully automated indoor growing technologies for commercial-scale operations.
Local chain agtech will provide more food independence than long supply chains, which have seen more disruption during the ongoing global pandemic. Technology allows growers to eliminate human error, provide more consistency and bring food production closer to the consumers. Taking dairy farming as an example, the adoption of automated milking technologies has significantly improved the efficiency of milking operations. Similarly, automated plant production allows growers to eliminate the guesswork, reduce labor costs, and improve the quality and affordability of products.
“Technology-enabled food production can help produce a reliable supply of food, but also to keep costs down. If you can localize food production and have technology help keep costs in check, it keeps healthy local food affordable,” says Dave.
CubicFarms' cultivator module
CubicFarms is fielding other near-term opportunities, including those in the food service sector. While the food service sector has long been interested in producing its own food, limitations to automation and local onsite access have limited indoor farming’s penetration into the sector. According to Dinesen, “It’s our onsite technology and automation that enables us to efficiently service the food service sector, which has been a challenge for vertical farming. More recently, we’ve created a brokerage, CubicFarms Garden, to bring our customers together with major opportunities for them to sell their produce. We’ve designed specific programs and even cultivars which allow our farmer partners to service these markets,” says Dinesen.
As CubicFarms is a technology company and is not a grower itself, they do not compete with their customers and instead work to continuously improve technologies. As Dave explains, “We’re a company founded by farmers and farmers are some of the most innovative people we know. We want to continue to make our technologies more and more valuable to our customers and our communities. That is how we win, when our technologies make locally grown produce more widely accessible, 365 days a year, not just here, but anywhere in the world.”
The company offers two growing technologies, one being the original CubicFarm System for the production of herbs, leafy greens and microgreens as well as propagation of nearly any land-based plant (or insect, evidently). CubicFarms also has a fodder technology division called HydroGreen, which was acquired by the company in January 2020 and enables the production of consistent animal livestock feed indoors, every day.
Having sold numerous systems over the last few months, CubicFarms will be installing systems at customers’ sites over the next couple quarters. First in line is a 23-machine installation in Calgary, Alberta, which has been completed and will soon be online. The farm will be seeding its first crops in February 2021, scaling up production in March and reaching full production capacity in the coming months. Shortly thereafter, the company will be installing 20 machines in Armstrong, British Columbia which will produce food for Kelowna and the Okanagan region. Also slated for Q2 is a 20-machine installation in Indiana and a 17-machine installation in Abbotsford, British Columbia.
In December 2020, CubicFarms announced that it had raised $15 million in equity financing, which will be used to expand the CubicFarms’ team and continue taking its technologies to market. According to Dave, the funding provides “a meaningful amount of working capital which can be used for further technological development including machine learning, artificial intelligence and robotics.”
With multiple major installations slated for 2021 and significant equity financing, local chain agtech company CubicFarms is poised for a busy year of installations and continued technological improvements to its systems.