Alex Fisher is the founder of Saturn Bioponics, a creator of soilless crop production technology. “It’s about bringing the crop out of the soil in order to increase the density,” he says.
Fisher started Saturn Bioponics back in 2011, describing it as “a long and painful journey.” He had been involved in start-ups since he was 19, with Saturn Bioponics founded many years later following some experiments he undertook in a conservatory with a friend. At the time he had a restaurant business, which helped keep him going during the first five years of R&D.
According to Alex, finance, bureaucracy, and mindset are big barriers. “It’s a conservative industry, the farmers have a particular mindset. Farmers are not people with deep pockets, and the financial markets are just not geared up for supporting farmers to adopt innovation. Innovate UK, which has been vital to the development of my company, is a brilliant organization, but there’s a gap – a huge gap.” Retailers are starting to show strong interest in this area. “While the farmer is key to the operation and production of a crop and system, the way the market is structured is that, in the end, the retailer decides what they want,” says Fisher.
“I think in the U.S., we see a real explosive opportunity,” says Fisher. The U.S. does not have anywhere near the percentage of greenhouses as Europe. He also sees opportunities in Asia, particularly China, Japan, and Korea. “They are massive markets with high fruit and vegetable intake diets. The guys we are working with in Japan on a joint venture have spent a long time looking around for technologies.”
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