Seattle-based indoor agriculture startup Koidra will share a $3.77 million research grant with Ohio State University, Rutgers University, Cornell University, and the University of Arizona. The four-year grant was awarded to Ohio State University by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and Koidra will lead the core of the project. The grant is unique for its academic-industry collaboration, said Koidra officials.

Founder Kenneth Tran was a principal applied scientist for Microsoft Research for more than seven years before he launched Koidra in 2020. He’s applying model-based reinforcement learning, which is a subdomain of machine learning, to the challenge of improving indoor farming. Reinforcement learning is focused on real-time decision-making and optimization.

Using this technology, Koidra has twice won the international Autonomous Greenhouse Challenge, a contest held at the Netherlands’ prestigious Wageningen University & Research.

In the four-month-long contest, the Koidra team used its software to remotely adjust greenhouse parameters such as lighting, ventilation, heating, irrigation, fogging, and blackout screens to grow superior heads of lettuce.

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