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"When the tide goes out, you find out who is swimming naked"

By Jamie Burrows, CEO of Vertical Future

Since founding Vertical Future back in 2016, aside from the journey my company has been on, I’ve also observed a massive amount of change in the industry – both good and bad. We operate in a small yet growing sector, and one of the benefits of this is that you’re never far away from news.

Contrary to many other sectors, vertical farming (and broader Controlled-Environment-Agriculture) should be viewed as a community. We’re all obviously companies with shareholders to answer to so there is a sense of competition, but one company’s success is another’s gain given the lack of maturity of the sector, the need to reach certain proof-points, and in particular, the level of scrutiny the sector has undergone in recent years, at a time when demand for innovation and responses to important issues continues to grow.

I’ve also never truly believed that the addressable market for global crop production in respect of vertical farming systems will be subject to a monopolistic or oligopolistic structure – it’s too vast, complex, and geography-specific. For these reasons, again, seeing other vertical farming companies succeed – whether focused on growing or the technology behind growing – has always been my wish. We all benefit.

In recent years, many companies in our sector have either failed or are close to failing, raising serious questions for many. This is (regrettably) something that my colleagues and I predicted but is nevertheless difficult as it means people lose their jobs, supportive investors lose money, and there is a natural knock-on impact for us all. Negative press provokes negative opinions from investors and potential customers alike – and these groups invariably presume that they are always comparing apples with apples. Often this may appear to be true, but some apples will be coated in a massive amount of wax and others will be rotten to the core. None of us ever know if we’ve made the right decision until we take a bite.


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