How technology can create a more sustainable food system

Published in
2 min readFeb 9, 2021


Ankush Gola, Senior Software Engineer, Unfold

I am extremely excited to join Unfold as the company’s first software engineer. Applying technology to environmental and sustainability-related problems has always been a personal priority for me and when I saw the opportunity to do just that with Unfold, I jumped at it.

Previously, I worked as a software engineer at Facebook and Robust Intelligence, a startup focused on AI security. During my 4 years at Facebook, I had the opportunity to work with several talented engineering teams on projects related to mobile app performance and data infrastructure. My time at Robust Intelligence taught me more about building software in a startup environment.

Unfold’s role in vertical farming

Unfold is a startup focused on enhancing the capabilities of vertical farming. In case you’re unfamiliar, vertical farming combines cutting edge hardware and software technologies with an advanced understanding of plant biology to grow crops in controlled, indoor environments. This method of growing crops uses less water, land, and human labor than traditional open-field agriculture. Additionally, vertical farming allows crops to be grown near urban areas, greatly reducing the need for using fuel to transport them long distances.

While many vertical farming companies are focused on better indoor farming systems and components, Unfold is unique in that we are focused on breeding plant varieties specifically for vertical farming requirements.

Falling technology costs, increased energy efficiency, and automation advancements are greatly increasing the viability of vertical farming. However, vertical farms are still nowhere near their full potential because they are using commercially available seeds intended for open-field agriculture. Seeds specifically designed for vertical farming requirements will bring great efficiency gains, as well as unlock the ability to grow new crop varieties indoors.

Engineering at Unfold

The engineering problems we face at Unfold are vast. We aim to create the most high-tech indoor vertical farming R&D facility and plant breeding program possible. Some of our projects include:

  • Building software to manage our fleet of sensors and devices.
  • Creating pipelines to process the environmental and plant phenotypic data coming from our facility and those of our customers.
  • Leveraging modern ML techniques to make informed breeding decisions from our genomic, environmental, and phenotypic data.

We are only just getting started and are looking for talented, self-driven software engineers and data scientists with an interest in our vision and leaving a positive impact on our planet. If any (or all) of our problems interest you, please reach out.

Our journey towards a more tech-forward, sustainable way to grow food is just beginning.

Ankush Gola, Senior Software Engineer, Unfold.