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Vertical grower awarded funding to advance Singapore's food sustainability

An industry team led by AgTech specialist Liberty Produce has won Innovate UK funding to develop innovative hybrid farming and greenhouse technologies to work towards Singapore’s food security and net-zero goals.

The award will see Liberty Produce jointly lead the Hybrid Advanced Research Vertical Farming Environment Systems and Technology (HARVEST) consortium with Singapore-based LivFresh, a high-precision controlled environment (HPCE) company. The UK’s James Hutton Institute and Republic Polytechnic Singapore (RP) are research partners.

The Singapore government has initiated a number of strategic policy initiatives with the goal of increasing self-production of its fresh produce by 30% by 2030 via investment in high-tech farms, among other measures. Currently, the Republic of Singapore imports over 90% of its food supplies from foreign countries, putting it at disproportionate risk to fluctuations in global food supplies and prices, as evidenced by the disruption to food chains across national borders during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Liberty Produce’s Liberator TCEA system will be integrated with existing high-tech greenhouse technology to produce an urban environment-friendly vertical farming capability for the Singapore growers’ market. For additional images please see the media contact below. 

The Harvest team will apply and refine hybrid farming techniques developed in the UK, with funding from UKRI, to support Singapore’s national strategy. This is Liberty Produce’s first stage milestone towards net-zero food production.

Liberty Produce will transfer skills and know-how developed at its Totally Controlled Environment Agriculture (TCEA) R&D system based at the James Hutton Institute in Dundee. Its Liberator farming system will be installed at the LivFresh site in Singapore where it will be integrated with existing advanced greenhouse technology. The team will run trials and investigate different aspects of how combined-system growing can provide optimum efficiency and higher nutrient density for crops needed by the Singaporean market. At the end of the two-year project, the team will roll out a scalable, turn-key product that enables increased Singaporean domestic crop production.

“We are delighted to receive international recognition for our hybrid farming technology and to be given the opportunity to contribute to Singapore’s net-zero and food security goals,” Dr Dylan Banks, Co-Founder, Liberty Produce, said. “We look forward to collaborating in Singapore to the benefit of their national production capabilities.”

British High Commissioner to Singapore, Her Excellency Kara Owen, elaborated: “This is a great example of Singapore and UK collaborating to advance shared goals of our countries in an area of increasing importance – sustainable and secure food production. As Singapore works to increase capabilities in in-country production of fresh food, we are delighted to be partners through exchanging skills and know-how: the result should be a scalable solution in high-tech vertical farming to address our future food security needs.”

Boosting productivity
Karthik Rajan, Founder, LivFresh, said: “For Singapore to achieve her 30 by 30 goal, continued innovation in boosting productivity and nutrition density are key within the realms of commercial pragmatism. We are very pleased to be a part of this unique cross-border academia-enterprise collaboration and look forward to enabling access to cutting edge innovation in urban farming.”

Professor Derek Stewart, Director of the Advanced Plant Growth Centre at the James Hutton Institute, added: “This project is a truly international collaborative effort and embodies the ethos of the new £27m Advanced Plant Growth Centre initiative. It aims to deliver increased commercial, economic and environmental benefits to the agricultural and food and drink sectors by innovative use of precision-controlled environment technologies.

“Building on our strategic partnership with Liberty Produce, and now LivFresh, we look forward to seeing our science in action in South East Asia and helping Singapore reach its food self-sufficiency targets in a sustainable manner.”

For more information:
Liberty Produce

The James Hutton Institute
Craigiebuckler Aberdeen AB15 8QH Scotland
Invergowrie Dundee DD2 5DA Scotland
+44 (0)344 928 5428
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