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CambridgeHOK appoints Patrick Harte to support investors

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CambridgeHOK has announced a new appointment as it seeks to meet the increasing demands from investors looking to fund glasshouse and vertical indoor farming projects.

The East Yorkshire business is keen to support investors in the financial planning and business case development to ensure the best returns on investment, targeting potential markets within the UK but also across Europe, Asia and the Nordic countries.

With that in mind it has appointed former British Tomato Growers Association chairman Patrick Harte, who has been General Manager of the UK food testing facility at Eurofins for the past three years.

Vertical farming sees indoor spaces transformed into perfect environments for specific food-producing plants, using automated operations for vital elements from climate control and LED lighting to irrigation and fertilisation.

It is seen by many as the long-term fresh food production solution given that by 2050, it is estimated that global food production will need to increase by around 70 per cent in developed countries to keep up with current consumption trends.

Over the past three years, expert teams at CambridgeHOK have been increasingly assisting businesses and investors to research, design, plan and build facilities which make concerns over soil quality, light and weather a thing of the past.

Turnover in this area of indoor farming alone has risen from just £250,000 in 2015 to close to £8m over the past 12 months, and Mr Harte joins as Head of Commercial as the business has set out ambitious plans to lead the way.

Mr Harte joins having has previously worked for ABF for 10 years across a variety of commercial and supply chain roles, and as a former commercial glasshouse customer of CambridgeHOK from his time as General Manager of British Sugar owned Cornerways.

During his time in that role he oversaw the transformation of a huge 18-hectare tomato-growing nursery into cannabis production for the pharmaceutical sector.

John Holland, managing director of CambridgeHOK, says he is delighted to have attracted somebody with Mr Harte’s experience to the business. “Patrick’s appointment comes at an ideal time for us given the momentum we have behind our vertical farming, energy and commercial glasshouse departments. This, coupled with an interest from long term investors in sustainable and energy efficient glasshouse projects, makes horticulture a very interesting space that requires developing,” said Mr Holland.

“We have certainly established a reputation as a leader in this developing market in the UK and that word is also beginning to spread internationally, bringing some big projects to our company recently.

“We firmly believe we have the complete package to deliver to anyone looking at Intensive Farming given our expertise in commercial glasshouses, climate control and energy provision.

“Patrick’s knowledge of the industry and his contacts can help us get in front of the people who will benefit from our knowledge, expertise and technologies and he will be focussed on developing our sales and marketing approach across all these areas of the business.

“He has a track-record of success in supply chain management and business development and brings extensive knowledge of operating large scale glasshouse facilities alongside extensive sales and marketing skills across numerous industries.”

Mr Harte says he is excited to join CambridgeHOK at a time of great potential. He said: “I am delighted to be joining CambridgeHOK having long been an admirer of the business as a customer.

“The need for Controlled Environment Agriculture is set to increase significantly over the upcoming years and CambridgeHOK is incredibly well placed to support its existing customers and new market entrants in the years to come.

“The business has the expertise and knowledge to advise on the best technologies and systems to match budgets and locations, ensure a solid business case is followed to bring the best returns on investment and fully plan, cost, design and construct these modern facilities.

“It is expertise I am excited about sitting down and speaking to potential customers about given the increasing understanding and acceptance of how food production is moving this way to ensure consistent, quality produce.”

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