As tackling climate change climbs up the agenda, more and more businesses are doing their bit for a greener and more sustainable future. Some businesses, like Farm Urban, are using eco-innovation to drive growth and scale while spearheading change along the way.
Based in an underground Victorian tunnel in the Baltic Triangle, Liverpool, Farm Urban are a pioneering social enterprise, focused on creating systems that allow people and the planet to thrive together in balance. Using vertical farming technology, they grow clean, green food in cities and deliver educational programmes, software solutions and consultancy services to help others around the world do the same.
The farm was founded in 2019, and the team were just gaining momentum in 2020 when the pandemic began:
“We’d just started supplying local schools and businesses, and we were days away from signing our first restaurant contract when COVID hit”, says Paul Myers, co-founder of Farm Urban. “Suddenly, we had a farm with 3500 plants and no-one to supply them to.”
It was around this time that Farm Urban completed Shift, an online business support course delivered by Form, which helped them in pivoting their entire operation; they switched to home delivery and started to work with partner organisations to donate excess produce to the most vulnerable across the city.
Farm Urban also successfully applied to a round of the pilot LCR Future Innovation Fund, which the Mayor of the Liverpool City Region launched to support businesses to adapt and innovate in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic; this has been key in taking the business to the next level, says Paul.
“We want to double our capacity and get more produce out; the suite of support on offer [from the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority & Growth Platform Liverpool City Region Growth Company] is going to allow us to do that”.
Other Growth Platform programmes Farm Urban have undertaken, include:
- Beyond (part of the Liverpool City Region Metro Mayor’s £75m Business Growth Package and delivered by Form) where the team received 6-months of dedicated support from a dedicated growth consultant.
- New Markets 2 ERDF Programme to receive a 35% grant contribution towards digital leadership & sustainable growth consultancy services.
- Peer Networks led locally by delivery partners, giving the opportunity to collaborate with like-minded businesses.
These have enabled Paul and the team to take a deep dive into their team dynamics, to identify core strengths within senior leadership and gaps for development, and develop assets such as an investment pitch deck and financial model, all of which has had huge benefits for the business:
“Support from Growth Platform has put us in an incredibly strong position to raise our first round of crowdfunded equity investment to build our dream team and scale our business,” says Paul; “We are confident the support provided will ensure we reach our investment target by the end of the year.”
So, what does the future hold for an ambitious business like Farm Urban?
“We want to grow outside of Liverpool City Region – we’re contacted on a weekly basis by people from all over the world who have been captivated by the Greens for Good model, so we’ve got something that we can scale and replicate.
“We’re in a basement today, but I want to see this kind of technology on rooftops and on the sides of buildings to green the city, clean the city’s air, to create really meaningful high-tech jobs, and also to provide nutritious food to improve people’s health and wellbeing”.
Find out more about Farm Urban here: https://farmurban.co.uk
Growth Platform have developed the LCR High Growth Programme to help ambitious businesses like Farm Urban to scale. Growing LCR businesses can speak to an account manager to understand what help is on offer to help them to sustain, innovate and grow.