A newly established innovation cluster will develop the groundbreaking service-model for urban farming, AgTech startup SweGreen’s ‘Farming as a Service’, to contribute to a sustainable food supply chain. The 2MSEK-project called ‘NeighbourFood’ is granted by Vinnova as an initiative to support innovations in the aftermath of Covid-19 pandemic. The project NeighbourFood aims to upgrade a modern Urban Farming solution to an optimized smart and digital model for system monitoring and remote-control process steering.
Farming as a Service (FAAS)
"We have developed cutting-edge technology with high technical readiness level for food production indoors. With this project we address the last limitation factor towards a remote farming management model: A cloud-based service that enables a physical food production unit to become available as a service to our customers – as we refer to as ‘Farming-as-a-Service’," Swegreen Chief Innovation Officer Sepehr Mousavi highlights. The vision is to create a realistic alternative to the highly global, and to a certain degree fragile and resource inefficient, food production chains that currently dominate the marketplace. The innovation cluster behind the project, besides AgTech company Swegreen, includes also Research Institute of Sweden (RISE), Mälardalen University and high-profile Swedish chefs Paul Svensson and Tareq Taylor’s newly established restaurant Paul Taylor Lanthandel.
The demand for year-round urban food production has never been more relevant than now, under the crisis of Covid-19. Production of food is down at 50% in Sweden, which shows our society's exposure, Paul Svensson, top-notch chef and founder of Paul Taylor Lanthandel says. Our aim is to contribute to and increase the trust in and desire for locally produced food near our customers, Paul Svensson continues. We see us as a perfect channel for locally produced food at Paul Taylor Lanthandel we provide both a small general store and a restaurant, and thereby nurse a close relationship to producers and our local neighborhood community. The core of the innovation will take place in Swegreen’s production facility, called CifyFarm, which is an indoor vertical farm for production of nutritious leafy greens, salad and herbs, with a yield of approximately 200 times yield/area compared to traditional farming. The CityFarm uses minimal resources all year round and is isolated from the outside environment and is located on floor -3 of Dagens Nyheter tower in central Stockholm.
Digitally monitored farming units
The Farming as a Service concept of Swegreen’s enables Urban Farming technology to integrate with e.g. supermarkets or restaurants by digitally monitored farming units at the customer’s facility, that will produce food with minimal logistics and almost zero human intervention in a plug-and-play format. This farm management system empowers any entrepreneur with little or zero farming knowledge to grow high-quality food in an optimal environment while reducing risks and elevating the decision-making process, using dedicated decision-support systems and process optimization through use of artificial intelligence, adds SweGreen’s CEO Andreas Dahlin. The NeighbourFood was one of the few selected projects by Swedish Innovation Agency Vinnova, out of 287 applications filed in response to the call ‘Innovation in the track of crisis’.
Innovative business model
The project will also make use of the sharing economy, innovative business models and digital twins to speed up a coping strategy towards the Covid-19 crisis and addresses the need for climate transition and secure circular and resilient food supply chains. The project is intended to be integrated to a national Shared Economy platform, Sharing Cities Sweden, financed by the Swedish Innovation Agency and the Swedish Strategic Innovation Program for smart and sustainable cities, Viable Cities. Neighbourfood is an example of the green deal and how the sharing economy in cities can trigger innovative business models for resilient food supply chains – a sharing platform for neighbours, by neighbours! mentions Dr. Charlie Gullström, senior researcher at RISE and head of Sharing Cities Sweden, Stockholm Testbed.
Swegreens Sepehr Mousavi who will be the project’s coordinator and lead also adds: "We are proud of our collaboration with RISE through one of the most prominent researchers in Sweden when it comes to digitalization and use of sharing economy solutions", Dr. Charlie Gullström and the platform of Sharing Cities Sweden alongside Dr. Alex Jonsson from RISE Prototyping Societies. This service introduces FaaS to our national platform for sharing economy as a new vital function. Sepehr Mousavi continues: "Also having Dr. Baran Çürüklü from Mälardalen University, a vibrant academic center for development of AI-related technologies’ and his team of Phd students onboard adds the competence needed for us to be able to hack the query and guarantee the success of the NeighbourFood project." Dr. Baran Çürüklü adds: "Food production can suddenly be a mission critical factor as we can see now. Orchestration of production facilities through artificial intelligence may be decisive in managing such a crisis."