Singapore start-up taps grant to develop robotic system for vertical farming operations

Singapore agritech start-up Singrow has been working to build a robotic system for automatic harvesting and pollination in efforts to boost its vertical farming operations. The company has launched several proprietary crop varieties - such as red and white strawberries, cherry tomatoes, komatsuna mustard vegetables and saffron - to date.

Last June, it applied for a Productivity Solutions Grant to boost its efforts to build the prototype for the robotic system, as its own cash flow was not sufficient to support the project, said founder and chief executive Bao Shengjie. Prior to receiving the grant, the company spent nearly $100,000 on the automation project, he added.

Singrow's intention is to complement its plant biology solutions with automation, which is the reason for its collaborative efforts to design and build the robotic system. "We foresee that, with continuous improvement and customization, our automatic harvesting platform will not only be applicable to our own farm and our franchisee's farms... but also completely change the current vertical farming operation model," Dr. Bao said.

The first phase of the robotic system development, which includes developing an algorithm to determine which strawberries are ready to be collected, has been completed. The firm is now working to customize the robotic arm further, he noted.

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