Laramie Start-Up Featured On The Cover Of Bloomberg Businessweek

Laramie Start-Up Featured On The Cover Of Bloomberg Businessweek

Laramie Start-Up Featured On The Cover Of Bloomberg Businessweek

September 8, 2017

59b2ee2e1a1ba.image.jpg
  • It didn’t take long for a company founded by a UW graduate student in 2011 to grow big enough to have an international reach and reputation. Bright Agrotech’s six-year growth surge was capped off this week by being featured in a cover story for Bloomberg Businessweek.

Bright Agrotech and its founder, Nate Storey have been covered closely by the Wyoming Business Report from the beginning. In 2011, when still a graduate student at UW, Storey won $10,000 in seed money in the Wyoming $10K Entrepreneurship Competition to help get his vertical vegetation towers off the ground. As part of his winnings, his growing company was planted in the Wyoming Technology Business Center (WBTC) incubator.

In 2012, Christine Langley, chief operating officer of the WTBC told the us that “We expect [Bright Agrotech] to be a very large business in the next three to five years.” It only took three.

In the fall of 2013, Whole Foods discovered Bright Agrotech’s vertical towers as a way to sell and display living organic produce in the store.

Just two years later, Bright Agrotech exited the WTBC incubator and set up shop in the ALLSOP Inc. warehouse and began working with the Laramie City Council and Laramie Chamber Business Alliance to secure a permanent building. 2015 was also the year that Bright Agrotech created the world’s largest food-wall for the USA Pavillion at the Worlds Fair in Milan, Italy. The wall featured 42 different crops along more than 7,200 square feet of growing space.

In 2016, Bright Agrotech introduced “CoolBar” a water-cooled LED lighting system to help plants grow and not cook inside a greenhouse. “Being able to decouple the light from the heat poses major benefits to indoor farmers everywhere,” Storey said at the time.

It was a busy year for the company, as the State Loan Investment Board (SLIB), approved a recommendation by Wyoming Business Council to approve a $2,685,750 grant and $209,250 loan from the City of Laramie to construct a 12,150 square-foot building to house Bright Agrotech while the Laramie Chamber Business Alliance provided a 3.85-acre lot in the Laramie River Business Park. That headquarters building is now under construction.

This June the company was aquired by a Silicon Valley firm, Plenty, a field-scale vertical farming company. Storey became a co-founder as well as the firm’s chief science offier. Storey and his co-founder, Matt Barnard, had been in communication since they met in 2013. The unique grow towers developed by Bright Agrotech – coupled with a system of dehumidifiers, infrared cameras, sensors and monitoring devices – allow as much as three times the plant growth as their nearest competetor. According to the Bloomberg cover story, Plenty’s new technology can yield as much as 350 times more produce than a conventional farm, using just 1 percent of the water. The nearest competitor, AeroFarms claims as much as 130 times the efficiency.

The combined company, simply known as Plenty has its sights set on bringing fresh food to the world. Literally. With the backing of SoftBank – which at $200 million is the largest agriculture technology investment in history – Plenty plans to build massive indoor farms on the outskirts of every major city on Earth.

The Laramie headquarters still under construction will remain part of the company, as will the 43 people currently working there, but “We’re going to need to hire a lot more people,” Story said.

Global Data Collection And The Future of Indoor Urban Farming

Global Data Collection And The Future of Indoor Urban Farming

Kimbal Musk: “Cook Wonderfully Delicious Real Food”

Kimbal Musk: “Cook Wonderfully Delicious Real Food”