The world population is expected to grow from 7 to 9.6 billion by 2050 and, to avoid mass malnutrition, we need to increase the food production by 70 percent (FAO).
One way of meeting future food needs is using hydroponics, a system where plants are grown in water with added minerals providing nutrients. With hydroponics, farmers can generate up to 10x the yield of soil farming, without many of the blemishes produced by pests in soil, selling for up to twice the value per kg.
With a scalable design slashing hydroponic system costs, Phytoponics joined our cohort to disrupt this market. Their vision is to innovate the food chain through facilitating the mass adoption of Hydroponic technology, so that a market sustainable agriculture can tackle their challenges this century of food, land and water.
We met Adam Dixon, CEO of Phytoponics, to get some additional information about their product.
G: “When did you start working at the idea?”
I’ve been experimenting with hydroponics for 11 years with many types of system and plant, growing the world’s first hydroponic Durian tree. Frustrated with the cost and difficulty of many growing systems, often resorting to DIY systems, Phytoponics was created when I thought of a new way to make a scalable hydroponic system and called together co-founders James (a business guy), Luke (an engineer) and Richard (another inventor) to turn the concept into product and a business plan to enter the market.
G: ”What is the problem Phytoponics is solving and how?”
Our solution, Phytoponics, uses a high tech polymer to construct a growing system cheaply, solving major problems of high cost, low profitability and sustainability that are currently holding back hydroponics from scaling. Our system rolls up compactly and ships cheaply, it installs fast by rolling out, inflating and connecting to nutrient system. Also through bundling in many features that growers need, total installed cost is dramatically reduced.
G: “You’re starting to deal with some of the major players of the industry. How do you feel about it?”
We have secured a major trial with one of Italy’s largest producers of salad, an excellent opportunity to test our system and have a partner in entering the market. There are more than 100,000 hectares of greenhouse in Europe, mainly concentrated in Spain, Italy and Turkey. Europe is our first target market, starting in Italy, and to fund our launch in August this year, we are launching a seed round in March.
G: “How do you expect to arrive at Demo Day?”
For Demo day we will have a major trial underway with our first customer and validation of our production methods.
G: “What’s your main goal for 2017?”
To have a successful seed round in April to fund advances in our production capability for a strong product launch in August.
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Read also our previous FoodTech Startup Of The Week posts: