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Christmas cuisine part three: ingredients grow up

15 December 2016|by Eleanor Sharman

As Christmas approaches, the topic on everybody's mind is the same: food. With that in mind, we've put together a rundown of homemade British startups active in the culinary sphere – from underground herbs to brilliant new gadgets, take a look at our collection of kitchen delights (and lift the lid on the money behind the magic)...

This is the third and last blog of a three-part miniseries, designed to showcase the best of British startups when it comes to Christmas cuisine.  


It isn't just food serving or preparation that's seen innovation in the last few years: sourcing the freshest, most local, highest-quality ingredients is increasingly an area of growth. And we're not just talking about scaleups...


1. Zero Carbon Food

Screen Shot 2016-11-22 at 16.44.52.pngWho: Zero Carbon Food is a venture-stage company registered in May 2012, and co-founded by Steven Dring and Richard Ballard. Dring is a London Leader for the London Sustainability Development Commision, and the two have previously collaborated on a short film about open-source energy.

What: Trading ingeniously as Growing Underground, Zero Carbon Food utilises unused underground spaces to produce greens and herbs using LED lights and hydroponics. The company is partnered with several retail, wholesale, and online outlets to sell its fresh herbs and micro-greens. These are grown 33 metres below Clapham, and survive year-round without pesticide or risk of exposure to adverse weather. A key aim of the company is to lower the environmental costs of agriculture: its hydroponics system uses 70% less water than open-field farming, and food miles are deliberately limited.

How: Over four fundraisings, Zero Carbon Food has secured £1.14m. Two of these investments come from equity crowdfunding platform Crowdcube, which has put in a total of £846k. The company's latest pre-money valutation is £1.8m, and it has only just expanded into the retail market.


2. GrowUp Urban Farms

Screen Shot 2016-11-22 at 17.04.31.pngWho: Founded in 2013, GrowUp Urban Farms was developed by Kate Hofman and Tom Webster. Hofman has considerable experience in the eco sector, having previously co-founded Arboreal , and Webster has previously worked as a sustainability consultant for Waterman Energy, Environment & Design.

What: GrowUp is developing aquaponics, the tool used by Zero Carbon Foods above, for both commercial and educational uses. The company is best-known for its GrowUp Box, a shipping-container-turned-demonstration-farm funded through Kickstarter, which houses 400 different salads and herbs alongside warm-water fish. The box produces an average of 8kg salad per week, which is sold to local restaurants.

How: Like many others on this list, GrowUp has only undergone one funding round thus far. It received £750k from Ignite Social Enterprise in 2014, part of which was given in the form of a loan. Three months later, GrowUp was given a grant by Innovate UK as part of its AgriTech project. 


3. Evogro

Screen Shot 2016-11-23 at 12.08.43.pngWho: Founded in 2011, Evogro was created by Jason Hirst, a former equity research analyst at Credit Suisse and CEO of Altien, a document management system. Hirst's foray into plant-based food is a sharp departure from previous work, but the project has already been snapped up by retailers including Claridge's and other hotels.

What: Evogro designs and manufactures LED-lit plant growing cabinets that allow professional chefs to grow plants indoors. Users can control the lighting and ventilation of the system, and receive information and instructions about the plants online or through a mobile app.

How: Over two fundraisings, Evogro has raised £528k – from Crowdcube (£282k) amongst others. It too has received a grant from Innovate UK, as part of the latter's SMART initiative . The grant, for £22.3k, given in December 2012, enabled Evogro to kickstart their project.

Want to discover even more home-grown British startups?


Try Beauhurst.

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