Iron Ox Inc., an automated farming startup from California announced it has raised $53 million in new funding led by Breakthrough Energy Ventures. This Series C funding round will bring the company’s total funding up to $98 million. Other investors in the round included Crosslink Capital, R7 Partners, Pathbreaker Ventures, I/O Ventures, Amplify Partners, ENIAC Ventures, Tuesday Ventures, At One Ventures, and Y Combinator.
- First launch: Iron-Ox launched its first autonomous farm in 2018 and grows to produce in proprietary greenhouses designed from the ground up to reduce the environmental impact of agriculture using a data-driven approach with robotics and artificial intelligence. Food produced by Iron-Ox farms can be bought throughout California at Whole Foods and at other San Francisco Bay Area store locations, including Bianchini’s and Mollie Stone’s Markets
- Investors: “World-class investors know that humanity’s most important pursuit is to reverse climate change,” said Iron Ox co-founder and Chief Executive Brandon Alexander. “To get there, we can’t settle for incrementally more sustainable crops — and we can’t ask consumers to compromise on taste, convenience, or value.” The company plans to begin shipping outside California later this year with the first harvest from the new Texas facility.
- Expansion: Iron-Ox is currently expanding its robotics and AI capabilities. The company is also recruiting plant scientists, engineers, greenhouse operators, and roboticists. Its farms require 90% less water than traditional farms and use 90% less electricity than LED-based vertical farms. They also can generate 30 times more produce per acre of land.
- Intentions: The company intends to use the new funds to expand its research and development programs, scale manufacturing, and continue operations across the United States. “We are applying technology to minimize the amount of land, water, and energy needed to nourish a growing population,” Alexander said. “The team at Iron Ox will not stop until we achieve our long-term mission of making the produce sector carbon-negative.”
- Operations: Iron-Ox operates multiple farms in Northern California and earlier this year broke ground on a new 535,000-square-foot indoor farm in Lockhart, Texas. Iron Ox’s farms produce leafy greens, herbs, and berries, and the company is continually testing new crops.