Providing strategic business support and expanding market opportunities for a growing agri-tech company.
Farm Urban is an independent company that connects the latest agricultural research and technology with local food production to create innovative and sustainable ways to grow food in the heart of the city, and to make it easy for people to make healthier and more sustainable food choices.
Originating as a spinout from Liverpool University in 2014, and widely known for their vertical farm in Liverpool’s Baltic Triangle, they now work with communities, schools and corporates, partnering with public and private sector organisations through their ESG programmes to bring about systemic change.
Managing Director Paul Myers tells us a bit about the company’s origins, and how it has started to evolve since working with SALINE:
“When we were starting out eight years ago as a non-profit organisation, we spent a lot of time doing R&D and testing to see what worked and what didn’t. Then we installed some small-scale demonstration systems for our vertical farms, and developed our education programmes, which since then have grown slowly and organically.
However, last year we realised that we’d got to the point where we needed to make some key changes, and develop our own revenue streams: we couldn’t scale up or have the impact we wanted to while we were still heavily dependent on grant funding.
We made the decision to set up a commercial arm of the business, and we were introduced to SALINE through a mutual business connection. We initially engaged them to help us grow corporate sales and awareness of our vertical growing walls, but it soon became clear that there was a lot more they could help us with.”
SALINE have helped us to see a market that we couldn’t see before.
Strategic thinking and broader connections
“For the past few months, with help and guidance from SALINE, we’ve been developing three new ESG packages for corporate clients such as large property owners, tier one contractors, and those involved in major infrastructure or building projects. Many of these organisations are looking for fresh ways to demonstrate their commitment to ESG principles, grow connections to local communities, and broaden their CSR activities. The Farm Urban packages – entitled Nourish, Nurture and Flourish – provide them with the means to do this.
SALINE has been a foundational part of helping us to develop these packages, and to establish strategies for getting them to market. They’ve helped us to get clear on what will resonate best in which sectors, and then used their networks to reach out to corporate contacts to test their reception, feeding back valuable insights so we can refine our offering.
Most importantly, they’ve helped us to see a market that we couldn’t see before. And with their input and market knowledge, we’ve found the right price point for the packages we’re producing.”
We know that they’re genuinely invested, they share our values, and they are committed to helping us build our business.
A relationship with roots
“Working with SALINE is very collaborative – it’s not at all what I was expecting from a sales company! Straight away, they just got who we were, what we’re about, and how to position what we were offering. Tom is so much a part of our team already, it feels just like he’s one of us, and he’s been key in helping to develop our strategic programmes and packages. I really like the regular touch points with Tim, SALINE’s MD, too.
Instead of feeling transactional, it feels like a relationship with proper roots: we know that they’re genuinely invested, they share our values, and they are committed to helping us build our business.”
Tim Smith, SALINE’s Managing Director, explains:
“Building a business partnership with Farm Urban has been a real highlight of 2022 for us, especially as their core ESG values align so well with our own. Strategy programmes are a key part of our offering: helping innovative businesses to understand where their future growth opportunities are, and supporting their diversification and growth brings together all of our experience, knowledge and skillsets – and is normally a lot of fun in the process.”
By working with SALINE, I think we’ll get there in a far shorter time frame than if we were going it alone.
Urban oases: creating a greener future
Looking further ahead, Paul tells us:
“Our longer-term ambitions are to develop a number of rooftop urban oases: community hubs in public spaces which bring together forward-facing elements such as the urban farming, and food and drink. This is a much larger project, probably with multiple partners such as local authorities, large corporate partner sponsorship, and so on.
I definitely get the sense that while SALINE are working on the sales of our ESG packages right now, they’ve also got their eyes on how this person or that organisation could potentially be a key partner in larger scale urban oasis projects in the future. It really feels like they have a good understanding of our wider goals and ambitions, and by working with them, I think we’ll get there in a far shorter time frame than if we were going it alone.”