LONDON – Kate Hofman, founder of the pioneering GrowUp Farms, the first vertical farm to have a branded bagged salad in major UK supermarkets (Tesco and Iceland), has won two major awards at the prestigious 2023 Great British Entrepreneur Awards.
The awards scooped by the food and social impact entrepreneur were the Sustainability Entrepreneur of the Year and the Equity-backed Entrepreneur of the year.
Now in its 11th year, and previously described as “The Grammys for Entrepreneurship”, The Great British Entrepreneur Award (GBEA) winners were named on November 20th at a ceremony at London’s Grosvenor House, and recognise exceptional entrepreneurial spirit, dedication, and remarkable achievement within their industry. They celebrate the outstanding individuals and businesses that drive innovation, generate employment opportunities, and contribute to the growth of the UK economy.
In the past 10 years, the pioneering founder of GrowUp Farms, Kate Hofman, has taken the concept of vertical farming from a small urban farm in London, to a huge vertical farm in Kent. This farm, which is backed by £100 million investment, was the first vertical farm to sell a branded bagged salad in major UK supermarkets, with the launch earlier this year of their two award-winning salads: Unbeleafable, which is in Tesco stores nationwide, and Fresh Leaf Co., which is in Iceland and Food Warehouse stores.
GrowUp Farms is also unique among UK vertical farms because it uses on-site renewable heat and power and can therefore grow food with a lighter environmental footprint.
The growth and success of GrowUp Farms has taken place in a decade of increasing concern about UK food production. The UK relies on importing 67% of the salad we eat each year, and over 90% in the winter. This year saw a 40-year low in domestic salad production – due mainly to soaring energy costs – and that, coupled with the UK’s over-reliance on other countries for its salad vegetables supplies, led to high-profile shortages in UK supermarkets.
“I am very proud to have won these two awards at the Great British Entrepreneur Awards and am accepting them on behalf of the wider team at GrowUp Farms, which has spent 10 years developing the technology and expertise to get to this point: growing salad leaves in the UK year-round commercially” said Hofman.
“Winning awards is hugely gratifying because it allows us to sit back for a moment and appreciate how much we have achieved – and what all the hard work has been for. Our salads are also winning product awards – which is fantastic! This recognition by the Great British Entrepreneur Awards is incredibly encouraging and motivating for us all and gives us the impetus to keep striving.
“Our R&D team is already solving some of the challenges that will allow us to grow other crops such as identifying heritage seed varieties that can’t be grown conventionally and improving the growth cycle of certain plants. Vertical farming is very much a long-term solution to the problems we are seeing.”
The GBEA judges said: “GrowUp Farms has a remarkable story showcasing an incredible female entrepreneur, Kate Hofman, with a clear vision and a well thought out plan for the future. The business itself is truly terrific, reflecting remarkable determination and skill, leading to significant investment and growth.
“GrowUp Farms is an inspiring story of innovation in sustainable farming. The judges commended the fantastic idea and remarkable business growth, noting that vertical farming represents the future of agriculture, allowing for a reduction in land usage while contributing to the development of biodiversity.”
For more information about the Great British Entrepreneur Awards, please visit www.greatbritishentrepreneurawards.com.
To learn more about GrowUp Farms, visit https://growupfarms.co.uk