Indoor AgTech Innovation Summit: Building supply chain resilience for fresh produce

By Gary Scattergood

- Last updated on GMT

Indoor AgTech Innovation Summit: Building supply chain resilience for fresh produce

Related tags indoor farming

Reasons for optimism abound ahead of the Indoor AgTech Innovation Summit, after a turbulent 2022 and 2023 characterised by closures, bankruptcies, restructuring, and cancelled expansions.

Now, as we enter the second quarter of 2024, there are plenty of developments to be upbeat about: Oishii, Local Bounti and Intelligent Growth Solutions (IGS) have reported healthy investment rounds; AppHarvest greenhouses are being revived post-bankruptcy (by Mastronardi Produce, Equilibrium Capital and Bosch Growers); and expansion plans are in the works for Little Leaf Farms and Revol Greens. So, what have we learned as the Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) sector cautiously lifts its head above the parapet and dusts itself off for a fresh start?

Stakeholders across the value chain are eagerly awaiting the opportunity to analyze these learnings and present new strategies at the seventh Indoor AgTech Innovation Summit when it meets on June 24-25 in Chicago, with senior leaders from 80 Acres Farms, Bowery, Singapore Food Agency, NatureSweet, Little Leaf Farms, the Commonwealth of Virginia, United Natural Foods (UNFI) and COFRA joining the discussions.

This year, the Indoor AgTech Innovation Summit meets in Chicago, the vibrant agri-food hub of the US. A hotspot for food-tech innovation, Chicago is the ideal host city to welcome key supply chain stakeholders from around the world.

Industry leaders in the area include Gotham Greens whose climate-controlled greenhouse has been located on the rooftop of Method Products’ manufacturing plant since 2015, and BrightFarms who will open its regional hub later this year. Both companies have contributed their expertize to the Indoor AgTech Innovation Summit program as part of the esteemed advisory board and will join the delegation at the Marriott Marquis Chicago this June.

Program highlights and key themes

The program focuses on bolstering resilience in fresh food production systems, providing key networking opportunities to connect international C-suite growers, retailers, seed companies, investors, and policymakers with the next generation of start-ups and tech providers. Greenhouse and vertical farming giants will attend to share strategic insights for enhancing yield and quality, optimizing production costs, and securing funding to scale operations.

During the research phase for the summit, key advisors were optimistic about the future for the sector as excitement builds around new diversified product lines of soft fruits, mushrooms and salad kits, and traditional greenhouse growers continue to innovate and embrace new technologies emerging from the indoor sector.

The two-day program hones in on unit economics, optimizing productivity, diversifying crop varieties, expanding global footprints and increasing the market share of indoor-grown produce. Experts will provide in-depth insights on navigating new opportunities for indoor farms, from higher margin crops to innovative funding models and smart farm operation platforms.

Alongside the main-stage panel debates, small roundtable discussion groups encourage delegates to dig deeper into specific topics, and the program includes an opportunity to join an exclusive post-summit tour of a local facility to see innovation in action.

The opening panel, ‘Navigating Market Corrections in Indoor Farming for Sustained Growth’, sets the scene for the summit, as C-suite speakers including Little Leaf Farms and 80 Acres Farms dive into the opportunities for expansion and consolidation following a challenging year for the sector.

Next up, an expert panel on growing market share, ‘Meeting Consumer Preferences Through Tailored Product Offerings’, will see the CEA Alliance, UNFI and NatureSweet celebrate successes in consumer engagement with indoor agriculture produce and share how the sector can capitalize on current momentum to increase growth and profit share.

Other sessions of note:

  • Securing Non-Dilutive Funding and Government Support​ With Commonwealth of Virginia, Bowery Farming and IFPA
  • Securing Investment for Start-Ups and Financing Farm Expansion​ With Equilibrium Capital, COFRA and Grosvenor Food & AgTech
  • Scaling CEA: Funding and Partnerships for Nationwide Expansion​ With EcoTech Capital, Enhanced Capital and BMO
  • Energy Efficiency: Lowering Consumption, Costs and Emissions​ With AB Greenhouse Power and VB Group
  • Automating the Greenhouse from Germination to Harvest​ With Sundrop Farms, Certhon and Ceres Partne

Exhibition

Outside of the auditorium, summit delegates can explore the busy exhibition and meet the teams responsible for some of the most exciting technology developments across CEA. Expect live technology demonstrations and enticing tastings to supplement the summit’s catering menu featuring CEA-grown produce.

Start-ups

As part of the exhibition, there will be a line-up of fascinating start-up mini booths ready to showcase their innovative CEA solutions.

Innovators will present their technologies, with practical advice from CEA leaders, accelerators, and venture funds looking for solutions to build supply chain resilience.

Six international entrepreneurs will pitch their disruptive solutions live on stage, in two dedicated sessions focused on automating operations for greenhouses and vertical farms, and tackling energy savings and on-farm efficiency.

Exclusive factory tour

Indoor AgTech Innovation Summit delegates can join an exclusive tour​ of Innovative Growers Equipment (IGE) – Hydrofarm’s Commercial Division factory in Sycamore, Illinois, on the morning of Wednesday June 26. They will discover how high-level equipment, growing solutions and hardware can improve outcomes in vertical farms and greenhouses.

This behind-the-scenes tour of the cutting-edge factory will include the robotics department, fabrication stations and the Growtainer. Tour participants will also engage in interactive workshop-style sessions, including discussions on container farming and LettUs Grow’s ground-breaking aeroponic rolling bench technology.

Networking

Every year, Indoor AgTech’s 1-1 curated networking environment is a hothouse for business growth, helping the CEA investment ecosystem to thrive. There are networking touchpoints throughout the agenda, with a dedicated room set aside for strategic conversations at private tables.

The 1-1 networking platform is available on desktop and mobile app for delegates to make key connections before, during and after the event, with simple calendar management for those all-important meetings, and a contacts directory to keep in touch with valuable new business acquaintances.

When ​June 24-25, 2024
Where ​Marriott Marquis Chicago

Find out more information about speakers, program highlights, start-ups, and delegate registration.

Download the Indoor AgTech Innovation Summit brochure.

 

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