Ikea invests in Estonian smart herb garden producer Click & Grow


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Click & Grow, the Estonian producer of smart indoor gardens, has raised $ 11 million from several investors, including Ingka Group, a company that owns the Ikea stores.

The Click & Grow investment round, the largest in the company’s history, was led by Estonian company United Angels VC, alongside two strategic investors – SEB Alliance, the corporate venture arm of Groupe SEB ; and Ingka Group, the world’s largest home furnishings retailer operating 367 Ikea stores. The goal of the round was to expand and accelerate Click & Grow’s global presence, the company said in a statement.

“This investment is part of Ingka Group’s wider commitment to support innovative companies contributing to more sustainable and healthy diets and we believe that the innovative approach of Click & Grow has great potential,” said Krister Mattsson, head of investments at Ingka Group, in a statement. .

The French household appliance company, Groupe SEB, owner of the Krups, Rowenta, Moulinex and Tefal brands, has become a co-branding partner and distributor of Click & Grow on the French, German, Austrian and Swiss markets. “We see indoor gardening becoming a promising trend for the home and office. We are convinced by the avant-garde of Click and Grow products and technology in this field ”, declared François-Xavier Meyer, vice-president of SEB Alliance, in a press release.

NASA-inspired herb garden

Click & Grow was founded by conductor-turned-entrepreneur Mattias Lepp, who in 2005 accidentally read a NASA report on technologies for growing plants in space. At first, this information seemed to him only a good knowledge, which he sometimes brought up at social gatherings as a topic of discussion. However, things took a turn in 2009 when Lepp stumbled upon another research paper which found that each year around $ 30 billion worth of houseplants were thrown around the world due to mismanagement issues.

Baffled by the fact that so many people around the world are struggling to take care of their plants, he identified unmet market demand.

By connecting the two things – the prevalent plant management issues and the knowledge of technology – the idea of ​​Click & Grow was born. The idea was that anyone could grow fresh flowers or herbs in their apartment, but with the help of smart technology, with minimal effort.

During the first round of research and development, it became apparent that the cultivation method called aeroponics (air and fog), which was so clearly described in the previously mentioned NASA report, was not the right solution – a more complex method was needed.

Attention turned to an area of ​​study called biomimicry. It is the examination of nature, its models and processes, elements to emulate or from which to be inspired to solve human problems. The basic idea in R&D was to map key aspects and processes of plant growth and create a medium that mimics them perfectly.

Sell ​​to the world

By developing a special substrate, which contains the nutrients and seeds, and using sensors, processor and software to measure and care for the exact needs of plants, an environment for growing plants has been created in the form of the Click & Grow’s first product, called Smartpot, launched in 2010. Smartpot proved to be a great success and was among the first technology products from Estonia to be talked about from Skype.

The company quickly followed up with new products and now produces its third-generation ‘smart indoor gardens’ in various sizes – and is set to launch a much larger ‘smart farm’, measuring 5 × 1.7. meters.

Click & Grow claims that its technology allows plants to be grown “hyper-locally” with minimal effort, giving everyone the ability to “grow fresh, GMO-free and pesticide-free vegetables” at home or in any other space. .

The Tallinn-based company said it shipped its products to more than 450,000 customers worldwide as of November 2018. The company’s largest market is in the United States, followed by EU countries and Singapore.

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Images courtesy of Click & Grow.

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Terri S. Tomasini