BrightFarms, which builds greenhouses in urban areas, announced that it has raised $4.9 million in Series B funding from NGEN Partners, Emil Capital Partners, BrightFarms founder Ted Caplow, and others. Its latest round brings the total BrightFarms has raised to $9.2 million. The startup is interesting because it sits at the intersection of two trends: cleantech and the increasing demand for locally-grown produce even in areas that are nowhere near farmland. Other recently-financed startups that are focused on meeting consumer demand for fresher, healthier food include Good Eggs, which raised an $8.5 million Series A from Sequoia Capital; NatureBox, which landed $2 million from General Catalyst to be the "Birchbox for healthy foods;" and Farmigo, which has raised $8 million to deliver boxes of local produce to consumers. Based in New York City, BrightFarms develops hydroponic greenhouses, which are built on the rooftops of grocery stores whenever possible. Each structure is designed to conserve land, water, and reduce greenhouse gas commissions while yielding produce that is consistent in quality year-round. In addition to enjoying fresher produce, grocers also don't have to worry about how weather patterns in different regions of the U.S. will affect prices or losses from shipping damage. In order to entice supermarket owners to build a greenhouse, BrightFarms pays for construction costs and lets retailers sign 10-year, fixed price contracts. Or, as the startup puts it, "BrightFarms is exploiting a financial and environmental arbitrage opportunity by building a distributed network of local greenhouse farms." In a statement, NGEN managing director Peter Grubstein said "We are particularly excited to be supporting BrightFarms, as it sits on the leading edge of the demand for local food production, utilizing sustainable practices and disruptive distribution model. BrightFarms is well-positioned to rapidly scale its model and now has the customer support and team to do so."
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