French dairy giant Danone has taken part in a US$28m investment round in local pesticide-free fruits and vegetable business Agricool.

The investment was made through its Danone Manifesto Ventures venture fund arm.

Urban farming business Agricool said the investment will allow it to pursue its ambition to make “excellent, pesticide-free fruits and vegetables accessible to all”.

The other investors in the round included Bpifrance Large Venture Fund, French businessman Antoine Arnault via Marbeuf Capital, Docker co-founder Solomon Hykes, as well as a dozen other ‘business angels’.

Existing investors – which include venture-capital funds Daphni and XAnge, Xavier Niel via the Kima Ventures venture-capital firm and Henri Seydoux, the founder of civil-drone business Parrot – also participated in the new funding round.

In the past three years, Agricool’s teams have developed a technology to grow local, healthy fruits and vegetables more productively and within small and controlled spaces, known as “Cooltainers” (recycled shipping containers transformed into urban farms).

Agricool said that, thanks to this new funding round, it will be able to confirm its role in the development of this new type of agriculture, while positioning itself as a key player in the segment of vertical farming in France and worldwide.

It said it plans to multiply production by a hundredfold by 2021, in Paris first, then internationally starting with Dubai, where a container has already been installed.

Agricool has ambitions to employ 200 people by 2021.

See just-food’s guide: Big Food’s Stake in the Future – In-House Venture Capital Funds