Plenty progresses toward ‘World’s Largest Vertical Farming Research Center’ 2025 opening

Company enters next phase for Wyoming facility with architecture firm and VP of Plant Science hires.

by CEA inSight

Vertical farming and agtech leader Plenty Unlimited Inc. today announced significant milestones supporting the development of its new Research & Development facility. Slated for a 2025 opening, the planned Wyoming facility is set to double the company’s R&D space and potentially earn the title of the “largest and most technologically advanced indoor vertical farming research center in the world.”

The project was made possible by Wyoming’s largest economic development grant ever given. Now the project steering committee has achieved its first major milestone: selecting MOA Architecture as the architecture and engineering (A&E) firm.

Plenty is also adding top talent to its Laramie leadership team with the hiring of Sasha Preuss as Vice President of Plant Science. Preuss builds on decades of experience heading up biology and biotech programs and labs for some of the world’s largest agriculture companies, including Bayer and Monsanto. Next up is leading Plenty’s team of more than 75 scientists in scaling up the company’s R&D work.

Advancing crop and tech R&D

“What drew me to Plenty was not just the company’s leading technology and runway for innovation and scale, but the genuine passion of everyone on the team to find actionable solutions for one of today’s most important global issues: feeding people,” said Preuss. “I’m excited to join Plenty to move more crops from conceptualization to production in our farms, and I’m fortunate to be working with a diverse team of talent as we leverage science and technology to secure the future of food.”

Vertical growing planes at Plenty Compton
Plenty vertical growing planes at Compton, CA farm

The company notes that growing more crops indoors is essential to make indoor agriculture a meaningful part of the global food supply, increase food security and improve supply chain resiliency. The Laramie research center will significantly expand Plenty’s new crop research, which has grown more than 50 different crops in Plenty’s 3-D vertical growing system.

The new facility will also support the ongoing development and new releases of core Plenty technology — including Plenty’s custom LED lights, which play a pivotal role in increased yield. The addition of the new facility will also enable Plenty to scale its leading teams of scientists and engineers and deepen its long-standing relationship with the University of Wyoming through additional partnerships and recruitment opportunities.

“Since day one, Plenty’s investment in R&D and our work to develop a transformational new method of growing plants has been what set us apart,” said Plenty co-founder and Chief Science Officer Nate Storey. “Building the most advanced vertical farming research center in the world will make it possible for us to further scale our innovation and to continue advancing the fields of agriculture and plant science in the face of an increasingly volatile climate. As we ramp up our cutting-edge crop research to scale what Plenty farms can deliver in the U.S. and beyond, we’re fortunate to have Sasha’s expertise and leadership shaping the future of plant science at Plenty.”

Home-grown support and talent

Plenty’s new facility was made possible thanks to the support of a $20 million economic development grant through the Wyoming Business Council to the City of Laramie. The Laramie Chamber Business Alliance (LCBA) is also providing additional funding, land and support for the project, bringing total support for the project to $22.5 million.

The project steering committee conducted a thorough, statewide review before landing on MOA Architecture as the A&E firm. The committee shares that selection was based on MOA’s capabilities and expertise from two decades of experience in Wyoming, as well as its commitment to achieving the project’s vision and objectives.

“As a proud Wyomingite, I’m excited to see the innovation and technological advances Plenty has made here, and the massive growth and research potential on the horizon as we begin our work together in Laramie,” said Brandon Daigle, Director of MOA Wyoming. “We’re honored to have been chosen as the A&E firm on this project, and look forward to leveraging our expertise and experience to design this groundbreaking new research facility.”

Brad Enzi, CEO and President of the LCBA, added, “Home-grown tech companies like Plenty and redefining projects like this research facility are helping put Laramie on the map for those who want to pursue studies or a career in STEM. We’re excited to see this project’s forward momentum as it progresses into the next phase.”

Following the installation of MOA as the A&E partner, the steering committee will move forward with the process to secure a Construction Manager at Risk (CMAR) to support the team on design and manage the shift to the building phase.

Images courtesy of Plenty and Wyoming Business Council.

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