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RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today announced that Babylon Micro-Farms, a Virginia-based company that develops and produces remotely controlled, indoor hydroponic systems for growing fresh herbs, vegetables, and salad greens, will invest $140,000 to expand operations and relocate to the City of Richmond. Babylon’s new location in Scott’s Addition will enable the company to expand its capabilities in manufacturing, software development, and research and development so it can begin distributing nationally and internationally. Virginia successfully competed with Arizona and California for the project, which will create 24 new jobs.
“We are thrilled to celebrate the growth of innovative Virginia businesses like Babylon Micro-Farms,” said Governor Northam. “The company’s dynamic, high-tech systems are helping to address food insecurity during the pandemic and getting fresh, local produce into the hands of more people. This expansion demonstrates the success that entrepreneurs can find in our Commonwealth, while also maintaining a strong commitment to environmental sustainability.”
Co-founded in 2017 by University of Virginia students Alexander Olesen and Graham Smith, Babylon Micro-Farms started when Olesen and Smith first designed a low-cost micro-farm to provide nutritious produce for food-insecure refugees in the Middle East. Motivated by the desire to bring benefits of sustainable hydroponic farming to those who need it most, the pair set out to develop technology that would automate the complex aspects of indoor farming and in doing so, make this transformative method of crop production accessible to anyone. Babylon’s key innovation was developing a technology system that enables its own staff to remotely manage the light, water, and nutrients for its farming systems.
“The demand for Babylon Micro-Farms’ engineered indoor farming systems is growing in assisted living facilities, student centers, restaurants, and across the globe,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball. “This expansion will enhance the company’s development and distribution of its products, and the addition of 24 new jobs is welcome as we work toward economic recovery amid this global health crisis.”
“Richmond is an exciting city with a rapidly expanding start-up and technology scene,” said Alexander Olesen, CEO and Co-Founder of Babylon Micro-Farms. “We hope to attract some of the leading talent to our new headquarters in Scott’s Addition.”
The Virginia Economic Development Partnership worked with the City of Richmond to secure the project for Virginia. Babylon Micro-Farms is eligible to receive state benefits from the Virginia Enterprise Zone Program, administered by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development. Funding and services to support the company’s employee training activities will be provided through the Virginia Jobs Investment Program.
“Richmond has proven to be fertile ground for innovative companies, and Babylon Micro-Farms’ environmentally friendly, technology-driven, indoor farming methods provide healthy food options for many people,” said Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney. “We’re excited to welcome them to Richmond, and look forward to the company growing its product and its presence in our city.”
“Babylon Micro-Farms’ relocation to the City of Richmond and the expansion of its operations represents an exciting opportunity for the city,” said Senator Ghazala Hashmi. “Not only is the venture bringing new jobs, the company’s use of innovative technologies for indoor farming offers a model for fresh and healthy produce that is grown locally and within urban settings. I am delighted that the company will be a part of Scott’s Addition.”
“We are excited to welcome Babylon Micro-Farms to Richmond,” said Delegate Jeffrey Bourne. “We admire the company’s ingenuity and commitment to sustainability and food accessibility. Its presence will be a great addition to our community as well as create valuable new jobs.”
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