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Bringing The Outside In – Innovating for Controlled Environment Agriculture
Tuesday 19th March 2019 @ 10:00 am - 4:00 pm
In association with the Association for Vertical Farming
Kindly sponsored by Innovate UK
Controlled Environment Agriculture aims to create the optimum growing conditions, allowing year-round cropping of a wide range of high value, fresh produce closer to the point of consumption.
Growing within a hygienic environment offers many benefits:
- Quality control – there is less requirement for plant protection chemicals, resulting in fewer residues in the products
- Tighter forecasting – production can be more closely aligned with market needs, thereby reducing waste
- Improved nutrition and taste – the growing medium can be tightly controlled to deliver high value crops
- Overcome seasonality – crops can be grown all year, enabling continuous cropping and also scope to grow exotics
- Improved productivity – vertical farming in industrial or retail units increases the growing area available for food production
- Plant production on non-agricultural land – closed environments can be used to grow ingredients for pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and industrial applications
This one-day conference creates an opportunity to hear about new growing systems, the challenges, the business case and the experiences of early adopters.
- Hydroponics to grow crops use nutrients in water. Technologies include:
– a deep-water system which offers higher nutrient levels and good ventilation control to provide greater consistency in temperature.
– 3D hydroponic towers which combined with genomics improves quality traits and reduces cost of production
- Vertical soilless growing systems that uses less water and maximise growing space available
- Aeroponics – a plant cultivation technique where the plant roots are exposed in the air while nutrient solution is delivered to them in the form of a fine mist.
- Aquaponic urban farm – which combines two well-established farming practices – aquaculture (farming fish) and hydroponics (growing plants in a nutrient solution without soil) in a recirculating system.
The challenges of implementing a controlled environment solution.
- G’s Fresh are assessing the feasibility of converting a large standard greenhouse facility
- GrowUp Urban Farms share the learnings of six years scaling up its production facilities and describe what is needed to integrate it into the supply chain.
10.00 Registration and coffee
Lindsay Hargreaves, Managing Director, Frederick Hiam Ltd
10.40 Taking Intensive Hydroponic Crop Production to a New Level
Dr Paul Challinor, co-founder and CTO of the Jones Food Company
11.15 Technologies for Controlled Environment Food Production
A series of presentations of the development pipeline of new innovations for controlled environment agriculture and their potential for different markets.
David May, Senior Project Manager, Lincoln Institute for Agricultural Technologies
Shedding light on indoor farming
Adam Dixon, CEO, Phytoponics
Advanced cultivation technology for high wire protected edibles
Jason Hawkins-Row, CEO, Aponic
Meaningful core market diversification opportunities for UK farmers
Dan Hewitt, CEO, GroPod
13.15 Bridging the Innovation Gap
Bringing ideas from proof-of-concept to commercial scale reality is a major challenge, often requiring capital investment, changes in process and practice and a compelling narrative, led by a credible team that gives confidence that the innovation will work. In this session we explore the challenges and enablers by which new CEA solutions can become mainstream.
Rhydian Beynon-Davies, Head of Novel Growing Systems, Stockbridge Technology Centre
A test-bed for new CEA innovations (TBC)
Chris Roberts, Head of Industrial Robotics, Cambridge Consultants
Make or Buy? The commercial and technical drivers for automation in vertical farming
Ande Gregson, Founder, Green Lab
Greens in a box: Nurturing early stage agritech ventures
Rob Wylie, Chairman, Cambridge Agritech
Investing in CEA businesses
14.30 Integrating Into the Supply Chain
What, if any, is the anticipated impact on CEA on the fresh produce supply chain? What is the potential for hyper-local, ultra-fresh produce to command a premium price? Or will a reduction in cold-chain logistics requirements bring prices down? How could large agri-business and smaller producers find their places in the supply chain, and what is the likely impact for consumers? What factors would influence the decision for growers to include CEA in their production systems?
Ben Barnes, Innovation and Research Associate, G’s Fresh
Kate Hofman, CEO, GrowUp Farms
Things we’ve learned from GrowingUp
Jaz Singh, CEO, Innovation Agri-Tech
The Green Revolution in CEA; Commercial Scale Aeroponics
15.30 The People Factor
The potential for CEA to generate products with increased nutritional benefits, altered flavours or to supply healthy nutritious food cheaply and quickly in disaster areas is significant. In this session we explore the opportunities for CEA on human physical and mental well-being through nutrition and flavour, as well as how crop production can be integrated in city and building design through creative architecture and planning.
Arnoud Witteveen, CTO, Saturn Bioponics
Tom Cox, former student, Leicester School of Architecture, De Montford University,
Designing buildings for vertical farming
16.00 Closing Comments
16.15 Event close
Phytoponics has developed a novel approach to deep-water hydroponics that incorporates deep-water culture, ebb and flood system, aeration, ventilation and plant support, all within an innovative growing module design. The flexible system provides an affordable entry into hydroponics and is quick to install.
Co-founder and CEO Adam Dixon was chosen to be a UN Young Champion of the Earth 2017 following his work evaluating establishing a hydroponic farm next to a refugee camp.
Adam Dixon is a co-founder of Phytoponics, an award winning CEA agtech startup that has raised over £650k to date to launch a unique deep water culture hydroponics technology suited for high nutrient crops.
Adam is a Mechanical Engineering graduate from Cardiff University and a United Nations Young Champion of the Earth, dedication to implementing practical sustainable agriculture technology around the world. With a special interest and expertise in plant root physiology and root zone control, he is now developing new technology for a multitude of crops including strawberries, raspberries and even Goji berries at the Phytoponics research farm at Stockbridge Technology Centre in Selby.
Founder and Director, Green Lab
Ande started out in IT and founded and conceived media140, Europe’s first real-time web-conference, and subsequently developed it into a global social media brand. Following the success of media140 he became involved in philanthropic ventures such as Science Rewired before establishing Green Lab in 2015 to work with entrepreneurs and businesses to design food production systems, processes and new foods that can be scaled from a bench-scale trial to world-wide impact. Green Lab is an open innovation lab and ecosystem for individuals and organisations to design sustainable solutions to complex urban food, water and waste challenges.
CTO, Saturn Bioponics
Saturn Bioponics is an advanced hydroponic science and technology company delivering sustainable solutions with a rapid payback.
Arnoud Witteveen joined Saturn Bioponics in 2015 to take forward the R&D with particular focus on hydroponic science. His work focuses on controlling the variables delivering consistent crop yields and quality including phytochemicals, shelf-life and overall nutritional values.
Innovation & Research Associate, G’s Fresh
G’s Growers Ltd is an independent producer organisation with 20 grower members in the UK and Spain. G’s Growers’ crop range includes wholehead and babyleaf salad, celery, radish, onions, salad onions, beetroot, mushrooms, Chinese leaf and leeks. Collectively G’s Growers farm over 7,500 hectares of specialist crop which they harvest, process or pack for sale onto their end customers.
Ben Barnes has recently joined G’s and heads up the research into controlled environment cropping.
Head of Industrial Robotics, Cambridge Consultants
Cambridge Consultants is a global product development and technology consultancy firm providing outsourced research and development services.
Chris Roberts is a physicist with a broad technology background encompassing robotics, machine vision, security, cryptography and authentication, digital electronic engineering, algorithm design and system engineering, with an emphasis on low power solutions.
GroPod is developing next generation growing systems that use aeroponics techniques for root vegetables and research crops. Aeroponics is a plant-cultivation technique where the plant roots are exposed in the air while nutrient solution is delivered to them in the form of a fine mist.
Dan Hewitt is the owner, founder and CEO of GroPod, and has two decades of agricultural experience which has included roles such as head of agriculture for Kettle Foods UK, running Grower Groups and sitting on the Board of the AHDB Potatoes Sector.
CEO, Intelligent Growth Solution
David joined Intelligent Growth Solutions (IGS) as CEO in November 2017. IGS is a Scottish-based agri-tech business and David’s strategic appointment was made to raise the Series A funding round, recruit a world-class management team and drive global expansion; the first two of these have been delivered.
David is a seasoned technology entrepreneur, with a track record of driving shareholder value, based upon building an empowering, collaborative Culture as a Platform for growth. Most recently he was CEO of global SaaS vendor Workplace, leading the team through a hugely successful turnaround, transformation, growth and exit delivering a double-digit money multiple return in less than three years. In the past 27 years he has completed almost 30 transactions as a founder/CEO, angel investor and board director, including risk capital investments (PE, VC and angel), acquisitions and trade sales in Europe, North America and Asia.
Senior Project Manager, LIAT
David joined the University of Lincoln in January 2018 as a Senior Project Manager for LIAT (Lincoln Institute of Agri-Food Technology).
David May is an agronomist by training, having studied Horticulture at the University of Reading and worked for ADAS as a crop advisor. David runs his own consultancy business alongside his work for LIAT, providing expert advice on food, flowers and plant quality. David specialises in the impact of supply chains on product quality and in particular, temperature management and damages through handling. He has extensive experience in QA and supply chain processes. He helps business optimise quality whilst using their resources efficiently.
Co-founder and Operational Lead, LettUs Grow
Jack Farmer is the Co-Founder and Operational Lead of LettUs Grow, a start-up using innovative aeroponic technology to design the next-generation of indoor farms. Their mission is to reduce the waste and carbon footprint of fresh produce by empowering anyone to grow delicious food near its point of consumption.
He’s a passionate advocate for the use of social enterprise, policy and the circular economy to bring about a more sustainable future. Jack specialises in controlled environment agriculture and its use as a means to reduce agricultural pressures upon natural ecosystems.
Aponic Ltd have designed and manufacture a vertical aeroponic farming system for growing fruit, vegetables, flowers, salad crops and herbs on a commercial scale 365 days a year. It uses 90% less water, offers much faster growth and much higher yields than traditional growing methods. Being vertical, it maximises ground usage by turning acreage into volume, and it uses very little energy to run.
Jason Hawkins-Row is an engineer and programmer with a passion for empowering people to grow highly nutritious, truly sustainable food anywhere in the world in a simple and predictable manner.
CEO, Innovation Agri-Tech
Innovation Agri-Tech Group (IAG) provides state-of-the-art agricultural technologies and solutions to help open up new food markets globally.
CEO Jaz Singh joined Innovation Agri-Tech in 2015. A dynamic entrepreneur, Jaz has extensive knowledge in the financial and agriculture sectors and has spent the last 10 years enhancing performance and delivering growth for small, medium and large businesses. His areas of expertise include vertical farming, indoor farming, hydroponics, aeroponics and aquaponics.
Jock grew up in Australia in a farming business that was focused on large scale food production. Despite a career spanning aviation, risk management and technology he has always maintained his interest in food production and is now an investor and Director at Growpura. He holds a Masters in risk management, a bachelor degree in Science (Botany) and has invested in other UK technology businesses related to Artificial Intelligence.
He has sailed in the Clipper round the world yacht race, and has also been known to tear around dirt roads at high speed on a motorbike. Just don’t ask him about emus and the damage they do when protecting their young!
Co-founder, Square Mile Farms
Johnathan is a Co-founder of Square Mile Farms (SMF), a vertical farming business operating since the beginning of 2019. SMF are building a network of vertical farms across London, initially by working with big businesses to introduce farms into the workplace for employee engagement and wellbeing. SMF currently operate three farms, including one located on the roof of Microsoft’s HQ in Paddington Central.
Johnathan is a Chartered Surveyor, has had a career in property and finance, and was formerly the COO of a successful Fin-tech startup.
Head of Business Development, John Innes Centre
Jonathan is Head of Business Development and part of the Knowledge Exchange and Commercialisation team at the John Innes Centre (JIC). He is responsible for interactions with Industry, Technology Transfer, Innovation and Enterprise. Between 2014 and 2016 he span out six companies in agri-Tech, medTech, industrial biotech, food and diagnostics. He is non-executive Director of three companies and a Board member of Agri-TechE and the Food Drink and Agriculture Board of the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).
Jonathan gained his BSc from the University of Leeds in 1985, and a PhD in Plant Genetics from the University of East Anglia (JIC) in 1993. He spent three years as an EU Research Fellow at the Vlaams Institute for Biotechnology, Universität Gent, Belgium. Since 1996 he has worked at the John Innes Centre as a Project Manager on EU research programmes on functional genomics and as CSO of the JIC Genome Laboratory. He was appointed to his current role in 2009.
CEO, GrowUp Farms
GrowUp Farms is a Controlled Environment Production (CEP) business that specialises in high-care and highly automated production facilities to grow that is safer, more sustainable and tastier than traditional produce. Kate Hofman is responsible for the commercial aspects of GrowUp, having founded the company six years ago with CTO Tom Webster. In her spare time she runs around after her toddler and dog.
Chief Investment Officer and Co-founder, Capital Agri International
Kiryon is the Chief Investment Officer for Capital Agri International, which he founded in conjunction with three others in 2017. The investment firm is a partnership of agricultural specialists with wide ranging ‘boots on the ground’ international experience who identify, originate and facilitate investments in agriculture, food and agri-tech across the globe paired with established fundraising experience in natural capital space.
Prior to setting up Capital Agri International, Kiryon grew up in farming, graduated from university as a biochemist and has spent his career in agriculture – having worked for 10 years with Bayer and BASF, before Hutchinsons crop production specialists where he continues to be retained as a consultant.
MD, Frederick Hiam
Frederick Hiam is a Suffolk based farming and fresh produce business specialising in root vegetables for retail, wholesale and food service sectors.
Lindsay grew up on farms on the Welsh Borders and North Lincolnshire and has significant experience of managing large farming businesses in East Anglia. In 2010 he was awarded a Nuffield Arden Scholarship to look at new science with the potential to transform agriculture and food; this was when he first gained an interest in vertical farming.
PhD Researcher, Wageningen University & Research
Luuk is a researcher focusing on the interface of agriculture and building engineering at Wageningen University & Research and Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) in the Netherlands. His research project pertains to the building design, the systems design and the performance analysis of plant factories/vertical farms for urban food production.
Luuk’s final research goal is to precisely quantify the resource requirement of plant factories and increase their performance through systems engineering.
Co-founder and CEO, OneFarm
Mira is co-founder and CEO of OneFarm. She is an agricultural entrepreneur having started indoor farming enterprise in the early 1980s. As CEO of London stock exchange listed company, her understanding and experience in the food sector expanded with the creation of a group of catering companies.
Understanding the impact of changing weather patterns on food production she decided that controlled environment agricultural production was an efficient way for creating additional food supply. To that purpose OneFarm has derisked a piece of the sustainable agriculture revolution and will be deploying large-scale fully circular vertical farms to provide safe, affordable, nutritious and environmentally sound food to local populations.
OneFarm is creating a ‘new category’ of affordable fresh healthy nutritious food and plant pharmaceuticals for local communities – on a global scale.
Non-Executive Director, Home Harvest
Neil has over 25 years’ experience across the food industry in both the UK and Europe. He began his career in the milling and baking industry with RHM, holding both operational and sales roles before moving to French multinational Danone where he held senior sales roles in the Jacobs biscuit business in the UK, before moving to Ireland to be MD of their business there. He returned to the UK to become MD at Aunt Bessie’s (part of the William Jackson Food group), where he oversaw the rapid expansion of the brand, then, following a short period consulting, joined Findus group where he held senior roles in the UK and Eastern Europe. In 2011 when he joined Florette UK and Ireland as MD; Neil oversaw the UK activities of the business, part of the French agri-coop Agrial, and was instrumental in the development of Angflor, one of the UK’s largest protected salad growing farms.
In 2016 Neil decided to step back from full time roles to take up a portfolio life, splitting his time between business and 3rd sector interests. Neil holds several commercial positions and has a specific interest in advanced agriculture. He is a founding director of Home Harvest Ltd, an in-home growing system start up, as well as a non-executive director of Growing Underground Ltd, an innovative urban farming business based in Clapham South London. He is also non-executive director of Ulrick and Short Ltd a specialist clean label food ingredients business.
Co-founder and CTO, Jones Food Company
Dr. Paul Challinor is the Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer of the Jones Food Company Ltd, which has developed a groundbreaking, high-care, fresh food, vertical crop production facility. The unit includes the latest innovations in intensive hydroponics, GE LED lighting and cropping system automation.
Dr. Challinor is a professionally qualified consultant, with wide-ranging agronomic and technical experience in the UK conventional and organic food crop production Industry. He holds broad experience encompassing intensive vegetable, fruit, flower and pharmaceutical crop production systems, with specialist knowledge of intensive hydroponics and substrate culture.
Head of Novel Growing Systems, Stockbridge Technology Centre
Stockbridge Technology Centre (STC) was launched to ensure continued technological developments for the horticultural industry.
Rhydian Beynon-Davies initially joined STC after his PhD at Lancaster University, investigating the influence of environment on rooting systems. At STC he headed up a project looking into the use of LED lighting for protected crops such as tomatoes. He then moved to G’s Growers to manage the development of G’s burgeoning indoor farming operations, before returning to STC as head of the novel growing systems division.
Chairman, Cambridge Agritech
Rob has focused on technology commercialisation and investment in the agri-tech and resource efficiency sectors for around 30 years. He is Chairman of Cambridge Agritech and Five Seasons VC, investment firms focused on agri/foodtech, and Chairman of 3 Agritech companies.
Director, Lincoln Institute for Agricultural Technologies (LIAT)
Simon is Professor of Agri Food Technology at the University of Lincoln. His research group specialise in the development of robotics, energy systems and data driven technologies to drive productivity in the agri-food sector. He is the Director of the Lincoln Institute of Agri Food Technology, and co-investigator of the £6.9M EPSRC (Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council) Centre for Doctoral training in agri food robotics and the new Lincoln Agri Robotics centre. His research includes analyses of the potential of controlled environment agriculture systems.
Architectural Assistant, Wotton Donaghue Architects
Tom joined Wotton Donoghue Architects in Bristol as a Part II Architectural Assistant in 2018, after achieving his Masters in Architecture from De Montfort University. For his Thesis project, Tom designed a hypothetical ‘Sky Farm’ to be situated on the bank of the River Thames in Battersea, south London. A utopian idea for a future where urban populations are booming and air pollution has reached a critical level. The multi-functional building would be a space-saving solution for high-yield food production, harnessing the nitrogen cycle to capture car emissions and convert to an organic plant fertilizer within the tower.
UK Director, Infarm
Growing up in Norfolk and Suffolk, immersed in the family wholesale fruit and veg business, Vanessa left school at 16 to work for a travel start-up as her parents don’t believe in further education. She went onto work in various roles across all sectors of travel including stints as a MD for a low cost airline and MD for STA Travel. Vanessa ‘rebelled’ in her 30s by doing an MBA at London Business School.
In 2007, Vanessa started her first travel company GoLearnTo, and her second travel tech business in 2015, and is co-founder of Ibiza’s best fine dining restaurant Amante Beach Club. Vanessa recently spent 2.5 years as Director of Innovation and Change for an automotive tech business, before coming back to her roots to combine farming and a love of fresh food with technology at Infarm, the indoor urban farming company, where she leads their UK business.
A big thank you to our sponsor:
Innovate UK is part of UK Research and Innovation, a non-departmental public body funded by a grant-in-aid from the UK government.
We drive productivity and economic growth by supporting businesses to develop and realise the potential of new ideas, including those from the UK’s world-class research base. We’re an organisation of around 300 staff, drawn mainly from business working across the UK, with a head office in Swindon.
With a strong business focus, we drive growth by working with companies to de-risk, enable and support innovation by connecting businesses to the partners, customers and investors and funding business and research collaborations.
Since 2007 Innovate UK have committed over £1.8 billion to innovation and across all sectors, and this has been matched by a similar amount in partner and business funding. We have helped some 8,000 organisations with projects estimated to add more than £16 billion to the UK economy and create nearly 70,000 jobs.
For further information on Innovate UK visit innovateuk.gov.uk.
Association for Vertical Farming
The Association for Vertical Farming is a global network of individuals, companies, research institutions and universities focusing on leading and advancing the sustainable growth and development of the vertical farming movement and industry. The AVF was registered 2013 at Munich, Germany county court as a nonprofit association according to German law and acts according to its statutes.
The AVF supports by organizing events, workshops, and conferences the transfer of knowledge and raises awareness in the field of CEA/ indoor /vertical farming globally. The AVF initiates projects and builds consortia for national and international funding opportunities.
Elsoms’ expert team, specialist facilities and strong relationships, develop breeding programmes that push boundaries, producing market leading varieties.
Creating successful new varieties takes significant time and investment. Our continued investments in our plant breeding team and facilities aim to help breed an even wider portfolio and bring new varieties to the market quicker. These major investments have seen our site develop into a major plant breeding station with state-of-the-art facilities.
Our specialist team produce quality seed and our knowledge of the market allows us to make informed selections and target relevant traits. Our portfolio of own-bred material is growing and it is our goal is to be global leaders in the crops in which we breed, including parsnip and swede. We work closely with growers, partners and institutions, developing our industry knowledge and understanding of what the market needs. We also participate in joint breeding programmes with Bejo for Brussels sprouts, purple sprouting broccoli and spring cabbage.
To learn more about Elsoms’ research and development, come and visit our stand and speak to our Research Manager, Dr Adrian Dunford.
EPIC: Essex Plant Innovation Centre
The Essex Plant Innovation Centre – EPIC – is a new initiative of the University of Essex that brings together world-leading research in plant sciences, the environment, computer science, engineering, robotics and data analytics to address real-world challenges. EPIC’s internal and external collaborations have developed exciting IP across a diverse range of projects, including horticultural robotics, soil microbial diversity and optimizing horticultural LED lighting regimes. Their work has helped business partners meet their R&D goals through consultancy, research services and spin outs.
By 2050 we’ll have 2 billion more mouths to feed. This will need to be done with less farmland, degraded soil and in an unstable climate. Indoor farming offers a climate-resilient solution to grow fresh produce consistently and sustainably.
LettUs Grow’s patent-pending technology represents a step-change in efficiency for the indoor farming sector. It can grow fresh produce without soil, all-year-round and in any environment – from cities to deserts – with minimal impact on the planet. The technology has shown growth rate increases of 70% over hydroponics and uses up to 95% less water than traditional agriculture. An easy-to-use software platform, Ostara®, provides data automation, optimisation and business planning tools to farmers, helping to maximise yields and minimise labour and resource use.
There are many applications for the technology including urban and traditional farms, food corporations and research centres. For example, farms could be located in food distribution centres to minimise food miles, keep food fresher for longer and reduce protective packaging. This would reduce the carbon footprint of fresh produce while simultaneously slashing both food and packaging waste.
The nutrition of hydroponic crops has traditionally depended upon the use of ‘two part’ or even ‘three part’ fertilizers. There is also an additional requirement for acids or alkali products to control the pH. For automated systems, this requires 4-5 Dosatrons and a dedicated computer. Such a system is expensive, takes up considerable space, and requires all users to be thoroughly trained.
In 2018 Plater Bio launched Gold Leaf, the world’s first fertilizer to contain every essential plant nutrient in a chelated and pH buffered form.
Gold Leaf radically simplifies hydroponic cultivation, and as such, it is now possible to take a crop from seed to harvest with just one product to fulfil your crops nutritional requirements!
Gold Leaf has been successfully tested on over 30 crop species in ebb and flood hydroponics.
Plater Bio are keen to talk to potential new partners to increase the use of Gold Leaf through trials in new regions, growing systems, and crops.
Plater Bio are an independent manufacturer of novel agro-chemical inputs, based in Derbyshire