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February's Smart Start: Indoor Farming

Posted on February 16, 2017 12:10 PM by WGCIT

Western Growers Center for Innovation & Technology’s Smart Start for February focused on indoor farming. Darryn Keiller, CEO and a shareholder of Autogrow in New Zealand, was in the United States meeting with investors; Darryn was kind enough to schedule some time to visit the WGCIT and speak with our residents. Autogrow, a global company with customers in 30 countries, are leaders in control, automation and data systems for indoor agriculture.

Darryn’s passion for the industry is built on his drive for innovation and setting new standards of grower performance for indoor agriculture. He takes great pleasure in spending time with customers, learning from greenhouse growers and other indoor and urban farmers, plus working closely with government, other industry partners and innovators. These relationships and gathered knowledge allow Autogrow to explore and develop new technology relevant to the industry. This, and his speaking engagements on the direction of the industry, see Darryn travelling globally, spending time in Asia and Australia, UK and the United States. He holds a Master’s Degree in International Business (Hons).

“Indoor farming is growing at 20% compounded annually,” said Darryn, so Autogrow is confident that they are developing their technology in the right areas. Autogrow’s aggregate data does not just offer a grower predictions, but provides actions to take. The company is growing, as well as the sector. Darryn joined Autogrow with a staff of eight people, currently employs 17, and plans on hiring four new positions in the near-term. With Autogrow’s participation in over 30 companies, they do not put restrictions on the crops their technology can be used for.

The issue of crop density repeatedly came up throughout Darryn’s presentation as well: “four to ten acres of soil based growing equates to one single acre of indoor farming.” Because of this, Autogrow hopes to create a knowledge base of “crop recipes” being built into their new cloud platform. Darryn answered quite a few questions from the startups that participated in the talk. Autogrow’s North American Sales Director, Kelley Nicholson, was also on-hand for the Smart Start. She answered several questions on build capacities and retrofitting indoor facilities. Kelley and Darryn also met with numerous startups one-on-one after the Smart Start. Thank you to everyone that participated at the WGCIT!