Babylon Micro-Farms Named in TIME’s List of Top GreenTech Companies for 2024

By Rebecca Duff

Founded by two University of Virginia alumni, the company graduated from the i.Lab incubator program of the Batten Institute for Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Technology at the Darden School of Business

Babylon Micro-Farms, a participant in the Batten Institute for Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Technology’s i.Lab Incubator in the University of Virginia Darden School of Business, has been named to the TIME Top GreenTech Companies in America list for 2024. TIME and Statista ranked 250 companies based on their positive environmental impact, financial strength and innovation, with Babylon Micro-Farms listed in the top 100.

The company founders, UVA alumni Alexander Olesen and Graham Smith, started out with one goal: to bring the benefits of sustainable hydroponic farming to anyone who needed it.

UVA provided a convenient proving ground for the technology. Olesen and Smith worked closely with UVA Dining to introduce the initial version of their product into the Observatory Hill Dining Hall, where students could benefit from regular harvests, and at the Boar’s Head Resort, owned by the UVA Foundation. The team introduced seven types of lettuce — butter, arugula, green star, red cross, skyphos, rouxai and nasturtiums — pea sprouts, cilantro, flat leaf parsley, as well as a handful of micro-greens including radish, wasabi arugula, horseradish and leeks.

Hydroponic farming uses a water-based nutrient solution instead of soil to grow plants. Babylon’s Galleri Micro-Farm offers a combination of more than 45 varieties of leafy greens, lettuces, micro-greens, herbs and flowers, with the company remotely tracking the growing process from seed to harvest. The closed and tightly controlled indoor farm environment eliminates the need for pesticides and herbicides and uses significantly less water compared to traditional farming practices.

Galleri Micro-Farm. (Photo: Babylon Micro-Farms)

Today, the company’s stated mission is to “grow the world’s largest network of distributed indoor farms so people get closer to their food.” While farm-to-table is pervasive in the food sector and indoor farming isn’t a new concept, Babylon’s approach of placing a farm on site that is automated and managed remotely is novel. Bringing the farm inside also provides a unique opportunity for food education. This fall, the company will start shipping its STEM Garden, which will provide hands-on learning about hydroponic farming to K-12 classrooms.

Babylon Micro-Farms is one of many successful ventures rising from the iLab, which is managed by the Batten Institute for Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Technology. The Incubator supports UVA founders committed to building and growing early-stage ventures they want to see in the world with cohort-based strategic operational, legal, mentoring and financial support. To learn more about opportunities for entrepreneurs at Darden, visit the Batten Institute Venture website.

About the University of Virginia Darden School of Business

The University of Virginia Darden School of Business prepares responsible global leaders through unparalleled transformational learning experiences. Darden’s graduate degree programs (MBA, MSBA and Ph.D.) and Executive Education & Lifelong Learning programs offered by the Darden School Foundation set the stage for a lifetime of career advancement and impact. Darden’s top-ranked faculty, renowned for teaching excellence, inspires and shapes modern business leadership worldwide through research, thought leadership and business publishing. Darden has Grounds in Charlottesville, Virginia, and the Washington, D.C., area and a global community that includes 18,000 alumni in 90 countries. Darden was established in 1955 at the University of Virginia, a top public university founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819 in Charlottesville, Virginia.


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