Business is blossoming for a Scottish agri-tech firm which exhibited at a ‘spring showcase’ to celebrate innovative tech businesses in the UK food and agriculture industry.

Edinburgh-headquartered Intelligent Growth Solutions (IGS) was one of three businesses welcomed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson to this year’s event at 10 Downing Street yesterday.

The vertical farming technology developer used an immersive virtual reality (VR) experience to demonstrate to Mr Johnson and other VIP guests how IGS’ growth towers are “revolutionising” the indoor growing market.

Members of IGS’ team gave the Prime Minister a virtual tour of the business’ crop research centre in Dundee, showcasing the wide range of crops that can be grown in its precision-controlled environment, including herbs and leafy greens, chillies, edible flowers and tree seedlings.

Vertical farming is just one of the new sustainable methods of farming that is being introduced to help the agriculture sector meet net zero goals, in line with the pledges made at the crucial climate change conference Cop26.

IGS says its vertical farming systems offer a greater crop yield while recycling up to 95 per cent of the water used. They have been designed to be used alongside and complement traditional farming methods.

Andrew Lloyd, chief operating officer at IGS, said: “It’s an absolute privilege to be invited to 10 Downing Street for this year’s spring showcase. We’re seeing a lot of companies innovate in the food and agriculture industry and it’s an honour to be recognised as a vertical farming leader in this year’s cohort.

“Vertical farming solutions, when used alongside traditional farming methods, can – and should – play an important role in reducing emissions in agriculture while also supporting food security initiatives. We were delighted to have the opportunity to highlight this to the Prime Minister and to showcase IGS’ ambitions for the future.

“With that in mind, we hope that Government takes seriously our proposal to change how vertical farms are recognised with regards to planning so that we can speed up the process of getting them built around the country and provide fresh, sustainably and locally-sourced food for all British citizens.”

Malcolm Offord, UK Government Minister for Scotland, said: “It’s so exciting to see the fruits of the vertical farming technology, pioneered by Scottish firm Intelligent Growth Solutions, on display at Downing Street’s spring showcase.

“At their facility in Dundee recently, I could see first-hand how they’re embracing this new technology to work hand-in-hand with traditional farming methods to ensure the UK’s food industry remains a world-leading force. We are making the most of our natural resources and scientific expertise to deliver tangible results and protect our future food security.”

While at the showcase, Lloyd used the opportunity to discuss some of the major challenges affecting sustainable agriculture and the adoption of vertical farming.

These included the need to encourage greater investment in the indoor growing industry, evolve outdated planning processes to speed up implementation, and take full advantage of brownfield and vacant land.