Vertical Future’s Vision for Sustainable Agriculture—A Balanced Approach to Growth and Innovation


In a recent interview with Grant MacDonald, Business Development Manager at Vertical Future, we gained valuable insights into the company’s vision and strategy. Vertical Future aims to be a game-changer in the agriculture technology sector. “We are a company that strives to lead in innovation and is very progressive in its approach,” MacDonald states. This editorial will explore the key points made by MacDonald, offering a comprehensive look at the challenges and opportunities in the agriculture technology sector.

Vertical Future is a global vertical farming technology and data company and Global Innovator in the World Economic Forum. The Vertical Future team design, manufacture, and build a range of proprietary hardware and software technologies, including an integrated vertical farming system – fully automated from seed through to harvest and back. Powered by its proprietary “DIANA” SaaS system that tracks, analyses, and improves the entirety of the growing process and underlying crop science, Vertical Future is building a global network of data-enriched, smart farms.

Deglobalization and On-shoring: Opportunities, Not Challenges

MacDonald sees the trend of deglobalization and on-shoring as an opportunity rather than a challenge. “We see this trend of deglobalization & on-shoring, which further contributes to producing inside a country to bring stability in local production,” he notes. This is especially significant in volatile regions like the Middle East. “The wars and countries in conflict further contribute to this,” he adds. The need for self-sufficient, localized production systems is becoming increasingly apparent.

The Risks of Rapid Expansion

One of the most compelling points made by MacDonald was about the financial and growth strategies that many companies in this sector often get wrong. “One problem we’ve seen is that companies brought the wrong finance and growth strategy, which contributed immensely to their current situation,” he warns. MacDonald cautions against the pitfalls of rapid expansion, stating, “Growing too quickly is also dangerous as burning through steps doesn’t provide a solid foundation to explore various projects.” This is a cautionary tale for startups and established companies, particularly in an industry where venture capitalists often seek quick returns.

A Portfolio as Diverse as Nature Itself

Vertical Future is not a one-trick pony. “Today we work in various segments such as R&D, alternative proteins, plant science, space farming (partnership with NASA),” MacDonald shares. This diversified approach allows them to explore multiple avenues for innovation and growth, reducing the risks associated with focusing on a single sector.

Price Points and Food Security

According to MacDonald, being open to ideas and innovation is crucial for supplying fresh produce at reasonable prices and improving food security. “Being open for ideas and innovation is important in my eyes to supply fresh produce at good price points,” he says. MacDonald also offers a nuanced take on the strategy of producing premium products: “A lot of Vertical Farms were trying to produce a premium product, which could be a good strategy when it comes to capturing revenues and cash flow but only after having validated some of the more basic steps such as a proof of concept.”

A Comprehensive View of Environmental Impact

Regarding environmental concerns, MacDonald advocates for a more comprehensive view. “Some people view the carbon emissions, but in my opinion, we need to look as well towards the resources you can save regarding water, land, fertilizer,” he argues. To truly understand the environmental footprint of agricultural technologies, one must consider the impact on the entire supply chain, not just individual operations.

Read Sepehr’s full article here on the Indoor Vertical Farming newsletter.