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Where agriculture meets artificial intelligence

Modesto and his co-founder started ZERO in 2015 to answer a complex question: Why has one of the most innovative sustainable agricultural concepts of the modern age — vertical farms — failed to take off?

Vertical farms were first envisioned nearly 25 years ago and promised to produce more food with fewer resources and less waste by delivering dense crop yields from stacked growing layers in controlled indoor environments. Despite the advantages of growing abundant crops closer to population centers and with dramatically lower land, water and worker requirements, vertical farm produce makes up only about 0.01% of the global market.1

Modesto wondered: If vertical farms can help stave off global food shortages caused by climate change, population growth and shrinking usable land, why do we see so few of them in the real world? The answer, according to Modesto, lies in the execution, because the high costs and complicated logistics of starting and scaling the farms have been major roadblocks.

To overcome these challenges, ZERO took on a world-changing mission to revolutionize agriculture with a new model for vertical farming that makes it financially and environmentally sustainable for commercial enterprises. As Modesto states, ZERO believes that “farms should go anywhere, without specific location requirements. They should function smoothly in extreme temperatures, both hot and cold. Additionally, they should be super clean and consistently meet the highest standards in lab checks. Of course, they also need to be environmentally friendly.” The company set out to find the right mix of science, software, engineering and creativity to make this vision a reality.


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