Combatting food scarcity with high-tech farming solutions

How secure is our food supply for the future? The search for an answer to this question led a team from the Spanish data network research institute IMDEA Networks to create LiFi4Food, a start-up that provides solutions for digital and precision agriculture. The research team’s innovative business idea earned it the top prize in the food category of the European EIT Jumpstarter program, a milestone they reached thanks to the experience and training received under the EU-funded ENLIGHTEM project.

EIT Jumpstarter is run by different cross-border partnerships formed by leading business, education, and research organizations under the umbrella of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT). The goal is to help early-stage innovators and entrepreneurs from emerging European regions turn their ideas into successful businesses. The prize that the IMDEA Networks team won is valued at EUR 10 000, which will be dedicated to creating the start-up.

Why LiFi4Food?
“LiFi4Food aims to address the challenge of food scarcity by promoting food production in high-tech agri-food facilities such as vertical farms and greenhouses,” explains IMDEA Networks PhD student and start-up co-founder Dayrene Frómeta in a ‘EurekAlert!’ news release. “From LiFi4Food, we want to provide these facilities with battery-free IoT [Internet of things] devices with sensors and actuators to help them operate these farms in a more efficient and sustainable way.”

The start-up uses LiFi wireless communication technology to connect battery-free sensors to the internet, providing sustainable solutions for precision agriculture. Its communication system is formed by self-sustainable and battery-free IoT devices that monitor and control parameters in high-tech agri-food facilities such as vertical farms, greenhouses, and aquaponics farms. LiFi4Food uses the light-emitting diode lamps already installed in these facilities to deploy a LiFi network that supplies the battery-free solar cell-powered sensors with both power and data. By transferring operation to the visible light band, the start-up’s LiFi technology eases the problem of radio frequency spectrum saturation encountered in 6G networks.


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