Join us as we explore the world of vertical farming with Jaz Singh, the founder and CEO of Innovation Agritech Group. In this podcast, Jaz discusses how his exposure to the farming industry in India and his family's generational farming background led him to explore innovative solutions for food security. You will learn about the challenges facing the agriculture industry, including energy costs, and how IAG is working towards reducing them. Singh also shares how IAG's modular and scalable solutions are enabling growers and users to quickly turn a profit while improving sustainability and disrupting the industry. This podcast is a must-listen for anyone interested in the intersection of technology and farming, and the future of food production.
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- Discover how IAG is revolutionizing traditional farming methods with the help of technology
- Learn about the increasing importance of food security and how governments and organizations are partnering with vertical farming companies
- Find out about IAG's certifications and how it provides consumers with confidence in the audit trail and traceability
- Explore the challenges IAG faces in terms of energy cost and how they are working with renewable energy partners
- Discover how IAG is helping their growers and users of their technology become profitable
- Understand how the talent pool for the vertical farming industry is widening and how young farmers are disrupting traditional farming
“The key for us is that any user of our technology is making profit efficiently and utilizing their energy lower than what they should be doing and really achieving those sort of targets and what renewables can plug in.”
“The talent pool is definitely widening up, which is great. New blood within the industry is very, very good. You're seeing a lot of young farmers that are coming into the industry, people that don't want to do things traditionally, definitely seeing the way that AgTech and vertical farming is shaking up and disrupting the industry.”
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[0:00:03] Harry Duran: Jaz Singh, CEO of Innovation Agritech Group. Thank you so much for joining me on the vertical farming podcast.
[0:00:10] Jaz Singh: Thank you, Harry. Thanks for having me on.
[0:00:13] Harry Duran: Where's home for you?
[0:00:16] Jaz Singh: Home for me is London, just outside West London at the moment. So I'm residing here. It's pretty close to our sort of facility, which is in Bracknell, where I'm sort of stationed a few days a week.
[0:00:31] Harry Duran: How long you been there?
[0:00:35] Jaz Singh: Well, at home I've probably been close to about ten years now. And in regards to our Bracknell facility, we've been there for about close to five and a half years now.
[0:00:45] Harry Duran: Okay, and where were you born and raised?
[0:00:49] Jaz Singh: I was actually born and raised probably about an hour outside of Windsor. So very close to very close to Windsor Castle. About ten minutes away.
[0:00:57] Harry Duran: Okay. Do you get a lot of people or a lot of friends and family coming to visit and expect for you to give them the tour?
[0:01:06] Jaz Singh: Pretty much. I think we're closer to more Heathrow, so there's more interest on Heathrow, so there's sometimes a designated pickup and drop off service.
[0:01:16] Harry Duran: And what's it like growing up there? What are some of your fondest memories of growing up there?
[0:01:23] Jaz Singh: Mainly the fondest sort of memories in growing up around Windsor. It's just that the scene around Windsor is always a bit there's something always going on, being a sort of tourist attraction and so there's always sort of activities and events. Being quite close to central London, only about 35, 40 minutes away, there's always something to do.
[0:01:44] Harry Duran: Yeah. Do you enjoy it? Do you like hosting people and showing them what's the best part of it?
[0:01:54] Jaz Singh: Yeah, of course, being very close to Windsor has always been great just to be around the area, so it's always been helpful.
[0:02:05] Harry Duran: And you went to university there as well?
[0:02:08] Jaz Singh: I went to university in Birmingham, which is probably about 2 hours away from actually from where I was born and raised.
[0:02:17] Harry Duran: Okay.
[0:02:18] Jaz Singh: And it was a bit of a smaller city compared to London, but yes, it's good.
[0:02:27] Harry Duran: How different is what you thought you'd be working in once you graduated from uni as opposed to where you are now?
[0:02:37] Jaz Singh: Yes. It's probably two sort of worlds apart. And I never thought I'd be into the vertical Farming space or the AG tech space, but I think I kind of went back into family routes, which are sort of farming. I come from a generational farmers back in India, in the Pajama region. So I sort of spent most of my summers and sort of half terms doing school leave with majority of my family back in India.
[0:03:08] Harry Duran: Okay.
[0:03:10] Jaz Singh: That sort of really got me into the sort of farming space and then having sort of the technology background from university and the exposure just sort of really exploring the two and that's where the two world started meeting slowly and exploring. And here we are in the industry of vertical farming?
[0:03:29] Harry Duran: What was the biggest either cultural differences or just awareness for you in terms of the different worlds you were living and navigating when you were those first couple of trips back home to India?
[0:03:51] Jaz Singh: I would say the poverty region mainly, especially where the farming region is within India, is obviously quite poverty struck. And at the moment the economy back then wasn't obviously doing too well, especially in farming sort of sector. India is quite known to be sort of an It background with a lot of engineers. And farming was an industry, it's probably been one of the oldest industries within India, but hasn't really been revolutionized by technology. So there was a lot of difference between the two.
[0:04:28] Harry Duran: And when did you start to put the pieces together in terms of your experience with technology and how did it get on your radar? What were you seeing or were you aware of in terms of what was happening in the CEA space?
[0:04:45] Jaz Singh: So really, when we first started exploring vertical farming in the CEA space, it really came from having exposure within India and having seen firsthand that the lack of arable land, I think the abuse of sort of fertilizers and chemicals, we saw the sort of impacts where certain farmers weren't getting the same yields as they were for some time. And it came from exploring that the industry was failing down to not having sort of government sort of support subsidies that we have in certain Western societies. And it kind of started off more of a sort of in a charity sort of format that what can we do with certain technologies out there and learnings that we've sort of developed that can sort of boost yields? Just simple farming methods because lack of education, certain parts of there were just basic literature and understood instructions where you could see that there was a lot of barriers to entry there. So having exploring that was really finding technologies and seeing what we can do. And then that got me from a market research point of view, what can we do to help? Started coming across variations of hydroponic methods that obviously used for some time and then using certain farmers, we're using LEDs and glass houses and it just became an exploration and research on what areas that we could see that could work. And then we started spending here in the UK and seeing what technologies work quite well. So we tried a test penal facility, we tried a few hydroponic methods with certain LEDs and formats. We then realized you'd need much more higher level of DEA, more controlled environment that would help, which then we realized there's a certain level of technologies and costings that are sort of associated. So it really came on starting from those that side of the world and seeing what sort of new advances of agric can be used in traditional farming methods. And slowly we started coming across vertical farming.
[0:07:12] Harry Duran: So you started, if I saw that correctly, in 2015, which in the vertical farming space is relatively early. And I'm wondering like who you were looking for or if this or similar to what you just said is a lot of it just self education and just I don't know that obviously not a lot of companies were doing it back then at the scale and size that, you know, that we're seeing now. So I'm wondering like, where you got your inspiration from or who you were looking to. Like, how are you having these conversations, you know, early on.
[0:07:48] Jaz Singh: Yes, so we we sort of incorporated our business in 2017, but there was a few years worth of research and development that was used prior before our company was sort of incorporated. Yes, and you're very much right. There wasn't many large companies out there, especially the size of the funding that is available. Even when you used to mention vertical farming in 2018 and you kind of had to explain what is vertical farming to where it is today, you'd be like, oh, vertical farming, I've just seen that on TV or I saw a YouTube where I saw a real and TikTok or something along on social media about vertical farming. So seeing the transition of knowledge transfer between what vertical farming is now, I think is being widely sort of accepted and you are seeing it in much more positive light, as well as you're seeing some of the negative comments of what they are, as we're all sort of aware of. But we are seeing a lot of a lot more sort of funding in areas, but majority of it was self funding, more new players coming into the industry, working very closely with certain universities here, especially agricultural universities that we got close with from organization. So a lot of it has been research and development and in a large way of Ihe sort of Ipm knowledge and.
[0:09:18] Harry Duran: Talk a little bit about the life cycle in terms of your current product offerings, but in terms of where you started. Because I know you talk a bit about the growth frame that you guys pioneered in 2017, and I'm wondering how that's evolved over the years. What were your thoughts about what you wanted to offer and who the audience was when you first started 2017 and how that's evolved over time.
[0:09:46] Jaz Singh: In 2017 we we initially had no aspiration to develop an end to end technology and a 360 plug and play approach. We couldn't find organisations that could say, right, you know, here's here's a warehouse, I'd want to kick this out with a fully functioning vertical farming facility. It just was unheard of. So we trialed variations of technology solutions. There are some experiments and research development that done really well and there's many others have failed miserably and learning, shall we say, the hard way. And for many years we kept trialing different sort of approaches of how on what technology works quite well and what the sort of lines of crops work relatively well, what light spectrums work well, what CO2 humidity levels and so forth. With that sort of knowledge and know how, we then started developing what we felt is a version of vertical farming and that was modular, scalable, where vertical farming doesn't have to go into the excess of tens of millions, where you can go something much more cost effective and having accessibility into the size of market. After five and a half, six years of solid sort of research and trials and research, it was really about developing our sort of commercialized solution. We purposely have been relatively quite quiet within the scene of vertical farming because we didn't want to stay too much very early on until we had a technology solution that we are ready to release into the public domain, which is now. The time is sort of right. And we have teamed up with some very good agricultural universities that you're probably seeing in the public domain that we're building vertical farms on campuses within universities for their PhD students to run sort of trials with at the moment.
[0:11:54] Harry Duran: What's the current product mix right now? And if you could paint a little picture for folks that haven't heard of IG, what's the current offering and who is an ideal client for you?
[0:12:11] Jaz Singh: So innovation agritech Group we specialize in the growth room 360. We have one product that we effectively offer and it's to build an end to end vertical farming solution that is fully plug and play. What we do is that we can convert sort of brownfield and warehouse space into a functioning vertical farm facility. We've collected and when I say a 360 approach on plug and play is we are referring to our automation that has been developed within our software, that has all recipes stored which control parameters of the right CO2 levels, the right lighting spectrum and have that directly plugged in that you're able to grow into a vertical farming solution. So all of our solutions are modular and scalable. You can start from a farm as little as half a million pounds in sterling and going up to about 10 million. So we have our entry to accessibility into the vertical farming space is easily accessible in funding. We've built the technology that you can come on at a smaller scale and then build up your vertical farm to be much more profitable and scalable as time goes on.
[0:13:31] Harry Duran: And who is an ideal partner for you? You mentioned a lot of the work that you're doing in R and D and your partnership with universities. What's the mix look like there?
[0:13:40] Jaz Singh: So we teamed up with a business called Co Alliance in the US in Indianapolis. We've been working with closely with Coaliance since 2018. We built that relationship. We've had two sort of forms that were two farms that were functioning there for research and development purposes. Mainly in the Indianapolis area. We've had our farm here in Bracknell into the UK, which is outside. You might be familiar with Ascot Races, which is about ten minutes around from there. This year. We are building a farm in the University of Essex, which is probably about an hour and a half away from central London and work majority with the University. We have several other projects that we'll be building out later this year, but I'm sure they'll be coming in the public domain relatively quite soon.
[0:14:41] Harry Duran: Yeah, I noticed you mentioned the University of Essex and the 1 million pound sterling grant that was available for you. Are you seeing more governments taking an active role in looking for opportunities to partner with vertical farming companies? And there seems to be more of those opportunities available because in conversations I've had previously as well, you have cities looking to really think about this problem on a more serious level and obviously the Pandemic woke everybody up. I'd love your perspective, especially since you've been doing this for a while, if you've noticed a more active interest from governments and organizations at that scale to do something to change the typical way of thinking about how agriculture can solve some of the problems and the most pressing needs we have now.
[0:15:45] Jaz Singh: Yes, I think the Pandemic did wake everybody up. I think the food security we realized that how much of a real issue this is, and I generally think that that was a big driver for all governments and food security being top of most countries agenda. We see it here in the UK with the likes of we've had Brexit as well as the Pandemic and a lot of sort of food was being imported from different parts. So there were some large government grants that were given to all types of farmers here in the UK and vertical farming now and innovations to all types of agriculture. Our government are starting to take it a bit more seriously than they have done over the last five years, which then brings me on to other parts of the world. We're seeing places in the UAE that have also taken us sort of very seriously from food security, so we're seeing the research and development that is being drive from university to academic level, which we're also seeing organizations that are lobbying certain parts of government to take action for the grants that are coming out. We're seeing that there is a lot of traction towards this area and how we can solve it.
[0:17:06] Harry Duran: How do you think about, as the CEO of where to put your focus and the focus of your team from an Rd perspective and where you're seeing the most opportunity? Obviously you mentioned partnerships here in the States. Are there parts of the world where you feel like IAG would be a good fit? I know you've got some recent appointments to the team and you're definitely doubling down on growing it seems like you've been doing a lot of the work, to your point, not exactly in stealth mode, but just under wraps. And it sounds like this past year, including this interview as well, just getting more visibility for yourself. And it seems like that's been a conscious effort for you to grow your visibility in the space.
[0:17:51] Jaz Singh: Yeah, I think we've been purposely working, like you say, Harry, and to quote you, to be in stealth mode, we want it to be absolutely certain. Credibility, integrity is very key for our business. We never want to release statements that we want to say of research and development has really been on top of our agenda. Every statement we put out there, we fact check it, we double check with our client science team to see what can be achieved, what is accessible, and we like to be as transparent as possible. We allow access into our vertical farming space for any visitors that actually want to calm down our biotechnology. We're running a relatively a fairly large research and development space, which is 10,000 sqft, roughly about 1000 space. So we test on scale. We understand the challenges within the market and the industry. We really do see research and development on top of our agenda.
[0:18:50] Harry Duran: I also noticed it was interesting that IAG is one of the few, the only companies in the country to be Red Tractor and Gap certified. Is that correct?
[0:19:00] Jaz Singh: Correct. We were the first accreditation for Red Tractor to demonstrate food safety and how food can be farmed safely within a vertical farming environment. We were quite proud of that quotation. We have a very experienced team who helped drive those forwards on Red Tractor and it was more about working with the sort of regulators and the auditors to creating a sort of new landscape. They understand the challenges of that. This landscape is changing on how traditional farming is growing and putting all of our SOPs in place to making sure that those skills are transferable. And it really does help our next generation of farmers that will be purchasing our growth room 360, because all of our SAPS are recorded, which allows accessibility directly into the supermarket very quickly. And this process took us quite some time to actually really perfect. But now that sort of handbook has now been produced internally, we can pass that handbook and knowledge out so we can show how it can be done safely. You can get an entry into the supermarket, not just in the UK, but to have global standards, which global Gap will provide any sort of buyer of our technology, the route to access safely farmed produce.
[0:20:29] Harry Duran: For anyone who's not familiar with Red Tractor, can you just explain a little bit about what that certification involves?
[0:20:36] Jaz Singh: Yes, the red tractor. The certification is really about supermarketing, the traceability of food, understanding that the farmers that are growing the food have done things the correct way, ethically recorded and have traceability onto all sort of food standards. It gives the consumer the confidence that the farms that they've been buying from, from the supermarkets and they adhere to certain regulations and they've been put there for the safety of everybody within that audit trail.
[0:21:12] Harry Duran: Do you feel like because of the time you've spent in acquiring a certification like that, which is really important, and obviously anyone who's in the space and understands what that means puts a lot of value in that. But that probably gives you a leg up in terms of, like, understanding the needs of supermarkets, specifically as it relates to vertical farming, any concerns they might have if all their experience has been with the traditional AG. And I'm wondering, as you deepen those relationships, how much of that is really educating the folks who've been in the world of supermarkets for probably decades and now trying to get up to speed with what's happening and the possibilities that are available with CEA.
[0:21:59] Jaz Singh: Yeah, that's a great question. I think the key of getting this absolutely correct, I think the supermarkets have been quite open into hearing what are the sort of new words, the new way of sort of farming and growing. And they understand the retractor rotation is something that they need to really purposes. But the key really is with certain supermarkets, especially, that we've been sort of working quite closely with, who has actually walked us through. For us, it has been the Red Tract, I believe is probably one of the strongest ways of audit trails to get absolutely correct.
[0:22:46] Harry Duran: What are the challenges that you foresee with maintaining that or just increasing the visibility of that accreditation and anything that comes to mind that is going to be possibly a challenge going forward, either from an education perspective or from an implementation perspective.
[0:23:08] Jaz Singh: From an education point of view. The red tract. I believe they're constantly sort of evolving in the red tract. I think they understand the technology landscape and how it's sort of changing from a traditional AG space into an agritech space. So I think they understand the challenges that we have a food supply chain that needs to have more consistent and continuity supply chain. So it's always quite key at the moment that they're aware of sort of evolving within that space. And I think the red tractor is following that sort of protocol.
[0:23:41] Harry Duran: I'm curious since you've been building the team for a while, and obviously I'm wondering how much of the previous experience you have because you were in wealth management prior to CEA. And I'm wondering if there's a lot of things that you may have learned there that you didn't think you would need those skill sets for a new career in CEA. But I'm curious how much of that has been able to be translated over there, because I imagine some of that experience and research specifically and analysis is probably coming in pretty handy right now.
[0:24:14] Jaz Singh: Correct. I think from my point of view, I think the skill set has been is that the experience of the team that we've had around us, the team that we have around Ihe, are sort of well experienced. They fill in the gaps of areas that me and the rest I don't personally have from a growing point of view. Management, manufacturing, it's been absolutely the team that we have from all realms and it's really credit to them on how we've managed to get bread, tractor quotation, how we've managed to make sort of lean manufacturing from our equipment is having those sort of key individuals in place. That has really helped and then my sort of previous experience on product management, like you sort of mentioned has really been about building the organization to add value to what we're doing, to really provide a value add as a business and to take that forward. So between us all, we all bring different abreast of fresh air into the business that really helps drive it forward commercially. And from a research and development point of view yeah.
[0:25:23] Harry Duran: What's been the biggest AHA for you as the CEO of a CEA? And how have you grown and changed as a leader over the years since starting the company?
[0:25:37] Jaz Singh: I think we all grown as a leader within this business, especially in the vertical farming something that hasn't been an industry, that hasn't been around too long and everybody is still learning. It's just to say we take advice from all areas to understand what sort of research is important, what sort of commercial avenues are sort of important. How can we all bring different skill sets together? How can we learn? How can we collaborate, partner with the right organizations to really drive this industry forward? And I see ourselves as a strong collaborator with different types of academics, different types of agricultural businesses that have been around some time and just bringing everybody together in a collaborative space and saying well, what skills and can we all sort of offer each other to grow a business? And that's just been a learning curve really.
[0:26:39] Harry Duran: When you think about you mentioned partnerships, you mentioned relationships moving into a new industry are there some relationships you've built over the years, mentorships or people that have been helpful for you as you've been navigating this world and relationships that you continue to this day?
[0:27:02] Jaz Singh: Yeah, I think I've had so many great mentors throughout my journey in business in the last twelve years. So it's always been having the right I always believe in having the right sort of advisers around us, the right sort of people that can actually add value to our organization. And I think the company has gone strength to strength just by having great sort of advice and professionals around this space that can really help drive the organization forward. So it's off to all the sort of advisors that we have surrounded around us that can help really guide the business forward, especially in an industry that is very capital intensive. So having the right people around us, having the right advice, can really help drive the business and the value and our offering that much forward.
[0:27:50] Harry Duran: How do you think about the next phase of IAG? Because a lot of what we've talked about here is sort of coming out of what we'll call stealth mode and you have a renewed focus in growth now for the company. And so when you think about, let's say twelve months, because typically in this environment, it's hard to think beyond that with everything that's happened that people have been surprised of. But as a leader of the organization, what are some of the things that keep you up at night in terms of thinking about what that roadmap looks like and any challenges you might face going forward?
[0:28:31] Jaz Singh: I think the challenges, not just for the business, but generally for the industry, is, as we know, the energy cost of which is the elephant in the room and the conversation that tends to keep coming up within the vertical farming space. But it's how that can be addressed. We're working with some great sort of renewable energy partners that are bringing a great level of experience from that point of view. So I think what it really comes down to is that how to reduce energy in certain areas and not sort of wasting energy and being really efficient in certain areas and being able to push into certain renewables that can be used within the vertical farming space. So I think they are definitely the challenges within vertical farming. And if that challenge can be addressed, then it's something to look forward to.
[0:29:31] Harry Duran: Where are you seeing the most hope or the most progress if you think about the future? Because obviously to your point, electricity is top of mind for everyone. So are there anything that you've seen on the frontier? Obviously not anything that might be proprietary, but anything that has you excited about the potential for where we can make some improvements in that space?
[0:29:56] Jaz Singh: I think a lot of people understand that energy now, it's only going to go one way in the future. So I think a lot of growers and users of vertical farming technology have been where can they be slightly bit more efficient now than they have been previously. And then that really comes down to certain recipes and understanding of really getting certain, shall we say, HVAC requirements exactly correct. That might mean getting certain spectrums correct. Might be using utilizing the spacing of certain LEDs areas from the plants that you're growing and certain drivers, to having them where they are and using different types of heat exchanges quite carefully in the correct manner to making sure that you're a bit more efficient in the way that we're growing. So these are all elements that are sort of mechanical engineering. And our team here at Iog have been thinking about constantly and always creating ways to reduce the sort of energy output, but still growing. The key for us is that any user of our technology is making profit efficiently and utilizing their energy lower than what they should be doing and really achieving those sort of targets and what renewables can plug in allowing. Their opex costs to be absolutely reduced allowing the initial capex costs to be paid very quickly and to be in a profitable state which allows our units to be which are, like we sort of mentioned are modular and scalable. So the key is the quicker that we can get our growers and users of our technology into profit, which I'm sure they'll be growing their operations that much faster by using the kit that we're providing. So it's all about scaling our customers and we're doing all the sort of groundwork from an R and D point of view to ensure our growth is always growing our profits.
[0:31:55] Harry Duran: Can you talk a little bit about the environment in the UK when it comes to CEA? I've had a couple of conversations with folks in the space from there, but I'm curious what your perspective is like in terms of adoption and in terms of support, in terms of resources made available. What's being on the ground there, what's the environment like from your perspective?
[0:32:19] Jaz Singh: When you say the environment, can you sort of elaborate slightly a bit more?
[0:32:22] Harry Duran: Yeah, just support from government or support from agencies? There's obviously some of the certifications that you've been able to line up. I'm just curious what it's like over there because I'm curious because each country, when I speak to folks in certain spaces, they're at different scales in terms of understanding how important this is for what's necessary and being independent in terms of not having that dependence on outside supply chains and just more and more awareness. And I'm just curious as being there, like what your perspective is.
[0:33:01] Jaz Singh: I think government support has only recently now been on top of everybody's sort of agenda recently. So I think that area is yet to sort of develop. There are sort of grants that the government are slowly sort of releasing and those government grants are sort of widely available or very sort of a competitive landscape. So from that point of view, I believe that is yet to establish and improve as time is going on. In regards to the certain space of maybe private investors within this space, I think the appetite is definitely there to be sort of green, sustainable being a technology business and food security is definitely on everybody's sort of agenda. So I think support from private investors is definitely there within the organization from the vertical farming space. And I think certainly when supermarket support with certain organizations that have supply and demand constraints with increasing freight costs now I believe that majority of supply and demand from supermarkets that they've seen that. We are constantly getting empty shelves within supermarkets. That's mainly due to the cost of freight and that is really the supermarket support is also there. You're seeing a lot of people that are coming into the space saying, well, are coming into more of an open mindset to say, well, we do need to sort of shake up the way that we're doing things. And if we are buying local, we definitely appreciate there might be a premium to buy vertical farm produce, but it is reducing sort of air miles, it is being sort of readily available. So it's a balancing act that needs to happen. But I think supermarkets are sort of understanding that now more than ever before.
[0:35:02] Harry Duran: Thanks for that perspective, I appreciate that. The other thing that's a concern obviously locally is the ability to find talent and I think we're seeing more and more awareness and programs being started in universities as well that specifically prepare folks for, you know, a career in CEA. But I don't think it was that was the case early on or in 2017. So how has that changed over time for you and for IAG in terms of being the caliber of the talent that's available? Is a lot of it homegrown and people just learn on the job or are you seeing the talent pool widen up?
[0:35:39] Jaz Singh: Yeah, I think the talent pool is definitely sort of widening up, which is great. New blood within the industry is very, very good. You're seeing a lot of, definitely a lot of young farmers that are coming into the industry, people that don't want to do things traditionally, definitely seeing the way that AG tech and vertical farming is shaking up and disrupting the sort of industry on how things were growing traditionally. But just from using our personal experience within IHG, especially recruitment is that a few of our employees have come directly from the universities that was sort of home grown within the agite space and plant science, crop science. It's definitely been a great space for us, having collaborations very closely with the agricultural universities. We put out what we're looking for and we seem to attract some great talent and they're really bringing some new knowledge and breadth of fresh air into the industry. Also with recently the red tractor that we recently spoke about, they after a successful audit and we managed to get the red tractor quotation, they filmed a short documentary for young farmers getting into this space and done a sort of advertising campaign, which is great to really sort of say traditional farming is changing. So they are trying to attract the younger generation of farmers coming in into this space. I think with awareness as well, things that we're seeing quite a bit on social media. I think that's also sort of bringing in that sort of talent and awareness which allows people to sort of look into this field a bit more deeper and they might be sort of going into the education part of it. I think that's what really benefits us, having some of our technology within the University of Essex, because ultimately we're training a new set of potential researchers and understanding how this technology works and partnering directly within this and creating a sort of secular economy that we can effectively once there are commercial opportunities available. You have a trained workforce that is familiar with the technology that we're supplying, so having those good collaborations are definitely key.
[0:38:05] Harry Duran: Yeah, that partnership with the university is really important. And it's interesting that you mentioned the impact of social media. I think a younger generation regards vertical farming as something cool, as a fun industry to work in. And I think that's really getting and bringing a lot of visibility and a lot of fresh faces into the space as well. There's probably multiple answers to this next question, but I'm always curious and I ask what's a tough question you've had to ask yourself recently?
[0:38:37] Jaz Singh: What's a tough question? That's a tough one to ask, actually. Tough one to answer. What's a tough question. I think the key is, with any tough, you can't be slightly off guard there. Harry. I think there's a lot of tough questions within the vertical farming industry. There's always new challenges constantly in a weekly process. I think there's always been obstacles along most routes, but it's how adaptive is the team around you and what solutions can you provide? But I think the tough question always sort of relays back into energy cost. I always sort of refer back to it, but it's how adaptive and how can you sort of always reduce certain types of energy costs? And that's always very high onto everybody's agenda. So I always sort of duran that into everybody. I'm saying, how are we going to reduce certain costs?
[0:39:42] Harry Duran: Yeah. When you think about what your journey has been, how you shifted careers, how you've been early in the space, all the work that IAG has been doing to prep for this moment, and you've even done a rebranding, I saw, of IAG as well. What keeps you motivated to keep going, given obviously some of the challenges you mentioned? I'm just curious, from a personal perspective, what that's like?
[0:40:15] Jaz Singh: Being motivated within this space is really about being able to make a difference in how we're changing the industry, the food industry, how this technology can really help to change food security. We're definitely not going to sell safeguard hunger and anything really like that sort of comment, but it's definitely I believe that it will help into certain poverty, sort of struck in areas that once this technology has established itself, it can really become costeffective and being able to give back into certain areas. And I think that's what really comes down to the cost of vertical farming is definitely going to become more and more cost effective, is going to become more accessible. There are at the moment, it's not just going to be sort of large conglomerates buying tens of million pounds of vertical farming equipment. I really think that we believe in accessibility, we believe in building module and scalable systems, that vertical farming can be cost effective if it is done correctly. And that's always something that really does motivate me, just coming from where we just coming from the sort of experience of what we need to do and what we need to achieve. And I think certain farmers are up against so many different challenges, the likes of obvious reasons of global warming, climate change, lack variable land, soil erosion and that list just seems to be growing year on year and year. But I think what keeps me motivated to show that how maybe some of those challenges we might be able to factor towards helping that change.
[0:41:58] Harry Duran: Yeah, that's very inspiring. And I think it's important to remember that this is a long term goal. It's a marathon, not a sprint. And you talk about there's a lot of barriers in terms of costs and understanding the tech, but a lot of those over the years and you've probably had first hand experience with this, the technology just keeps getting better and better. The costs are coming down. We're looking at different ways to solve the energy challenges. So I think the people that can stick through it and I can make it through these next couple of years, I think they'll be in a good position for leading the way and showing exactly what's possible in this space. So I applaud you for your persistence in continuing to keep going.
[0:42:41] Jaz Singh: Right. No, definitely. I think what it really comes down to is that as long as we're able to support in certain areas with an understanding of all those challenges and having the right individuals with experience and team members and collaborations, they are all key factors to make sure that this industry as well as IHG is successful within the field that we're operating in.
[0:43:04] Harry Duran: Yeah, so as we wrap up, I want to always leave time. You've heard a couple of these episodes and so there's a lot of your peers that have been on this show and a lot of folks who are interested in the vertical farming space. So I like to leave a couple of minutes for anything you might have as an ask or a message to anyone that's in this space currently entering the space or considering it, or anyone that's appear in the industry.
[0:43:34] Jaz Singh: I think just to put out there, we're always open to collaboration. It is definitely part of our sort of vision to making sure that we're teaming up with the likes of all types of people from academia to commercial growers to even vertical farming organizations that might need support in certain areas of research and development. We wouldn't say that we're a closed book. We're always open to sort of conversating research and developing together and really helping sort of develop our research to making sure that this industry is successful from any collaboration that might be. We just say reach out to us and we can definitely sort of explore further. We really think that the growth frame 360, the technology that we built, is one that we believe that will be served within the vertical farming space for the long future that we see ahead of us. And the technology is really being developed to make sure that it serves the needs and it serves, from a capex and opex point of view, to ensure that the users of the technology are generating success from it.
[0:44:48] Harry Duran: That's pretty much that's very good to hear and very inspiring. And we'll make sure we include links to the product and the website in the Show Notes. It's Iagratech.com. Is there any other place you want to send folks to learn more about what the IAG is up to?
[0:45:09] Jaz Singh: Yes, we have our social media handles that are available on LinkedIn and Instagram as well. So there are the two sort of platforms that are quite active if anybody wants to keep up to date on what we're up to. We tend to be quite active on both social channels, so feel free to reach out if anybody wants to sort of come down and visit us at our Bracknell facility just 45 minutes away from central London. They're more than welcome to just reach out to our team on our website and we'll sort of book you in.
[0:45:42] Harry Duran: Okay. I'm always conscious of keeping those locations of the folks I've spoken to in mind as I started my travels again, so if I'm ever in the neighborhood, I'll definitely let you know as well. We'll make sure the links to all the socials on the website so no one has to go looking for them are going to be included in the Show notes. But I know we've had a couple of back and forth with trying to get this scheduled. I'm really excited that we finally had this conversation because you've been working at this for a while and I was really interested to hear your perspective jazz, and I'm really excited to see all the work that you've done so far, some of it itself. And then now, thankfully, with this episode and the work your marketing team is doing, I think the word is getting out about some of the positive developments you have in the space. So I encourage everyone to watch closely what you're doing because it seems like you're just starting to hit your stride and then some big things are coming.
[0:46:35] Jaz Singh: Right, well, thank you very much for the kind words, Harry, and if you ever are in the London area, would love to host you and show you exactly how our technology works. Yeah, thank you very much for setting it.