Agricool, a French start-up that upcycles containers to produce organic strawberries in a controlled atmosphere, has just raised €4 million ($4.24m), reports the French magazine L’Usine Nouvelle. Founded a year ago by Gonzague Gru and Guillaume Fourdinier, two farmers’ sons, the start-up now employs 30 people.
The promise: shipping containers 120 times more productive than a field per square meter. In order to grow strawberries free of pesticides and GMOs and with 90% less water than for traditional growing, conditions are optimized: level of CO2, irrigation, temperature, light, etc.
The first prototype, designed in October 2015 in one of the parents’ farm in the north, is in the Bercy park in Paris. With the “cooltainer”, strawberries are of quality, but production remains “chaotic”, says Guillaume Fourdinier. Several prototypes and a year later, production has increased tenfold. Objective for 2017: produce 91 tons of strawberries, in 75 containers to be set up in the Paris region… Before setting up in the rest of France, abroad and diversify crops.
The fundraising for €4 million ($4.24m) from the brand new Daphni investment fund, with contributions from the bosses of Parrot and Captain Train (today Trainline) should allow Agricool to think big. And if you are interested in urban agriculture in containers and you have 150m2 to devote to them, both founders are actively looking for “25 locations for our Cooltainers in and around Paris”.