Serial entrepreneur Duncan Bannatyne has joined vertical farming pioneer Innovation Agri-Tech Group as a non-executive director.

Based in London, IAG specializes in vertical indoor aeroponics and offers solutions to traditional farming challenges. It is claimed to use up to 95% less water than conventional farming and 70% less water than hydroponics.

Its patented flagship system, GrowFrame, is a modular system that uses aeroponic irrigation and a closed water recirculation cycle to deliver pesticide-free water and high-precision nutrients, and is proven to produce healthier root systems and superior crop growth for up to 15 cycles harvest per year.

The roots of plants grown in this way freely absorb the maximum amount of oxygen, without restrictions of soil compaction. The company says this allows plants to produce the oils and sugars that give them flavor much more efficiently, creating strong, vigorous crops that taste great and grow much faster with an extended shelf life compared to conventional methods.

Bannatyne, best known for founding the Bannatyne group of health clubs, was impressed by the company’s vision to revolutionize the way food is grown on a global scale.

“On my visit to the IAG farm, I was very surprised at how easy it is to grow food indoors and, importantly, vertically,” he said.

“One cannot deny the massive problems affecting people today, such as the terrible situation in Ukraine. However, this is by no means the only factor when considering the global food shortages that have been evident for decades.

“As the population continues to grow, we need a new way to produce food, as traditional farming methods alone are not meeting the demand, and in my opinion, vertical farming is the perfect solution. It complements the work already being done by farmers around the world and tackles the challenges of soil degradation, food miles, seasonality and water use through aeroponic technology.

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“While many may view vertical farming as some weird sci-fi project, it is definitely anything but. Once set up, it’s easy to use and can quickly grow a range of high-nutrient, great-tasting foods.

“It’s exciting – and it’s just the beginning. I look forward to the journey with IAG – and how vertical farming will play an increasingly important role in the food supply chain of the future.”

After joining the Royal Navy aged just 15, Bannatyne began his business career aged 20 in Jersey, buying an ice cream van for just £450, before eventually selling the business to fund Quality Care Homes – a business that which he sold for £26m in 1996 – and the nursery chain Just Learning, which was sold for £22m.

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Business Angel in the BBC program dragons lair in 2004 he was awarded an OBE for services to charity.

Jaz Singh, CEO of Innovation Agri-Tech Group, said: “We are delighted to welcome Duncan to the IAG Board of Directors. Having such a fantastic ambassador for vertical farming can only benefit us as we look to take our business out of the R&D phase and into the market.

“This is a really exciting moment and we truly believe that vertical farming is the technology of the future.”

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Duncan Bannatyne joins ‘amazing’ AgriTech pioneer

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