"Catering companies are in the midst of a huge transition towards a more sustainable menu, and we're glad to be able to play a role there. Some big names in the industry are switching to a predominantly plant-based diet, and we think vertical farming can play a big role there. In the past, cost and convenience were the primary drivers in catering, but we now see that quality and sustainability are increasingly becoming important in the menus. The sector is increasingly opening up to innovation, and we expect consumer expectations to push it further in the coming years," says Olivier Francescangeli, Co-founder of VaVersa.
The Amsterdam agtech company helps chefs by supplying growing cabinets that allow the cultivation of fresh ingredients on the spot. Currently, the team is launching a crowdfunding campaign. The campaign aims to secure funding for the commercial rollout of their Mia Garden, a miniature vertical farm tailored for professional kitchens. VaVersa aims to tackle core sustainability challenges in Horeca supply chains.
VaVersa is currently in the process of exploring the next generation of Mia gardens. "We have a lot of valuable feedback and sufficient evidence that there is a significant market for a smaller version, and we are also exploring the idea of making the set-up modular to add a customizable element based on space availability and intended use," Olivier adds.
The Vaversa team
VaVersa's Mia garden seeks to redefine farm-to-table by facilitating the growing of herbs, greens, cresses, and other fresh produce in restaurants, with the idea of bringing the production directly to the point of consumption. By placing a Mia garden in the location, chefs can grow fresh produce that is tastier and higher in nutritional value. The Mia allows restaurants to eliminate unnecessary plastic packaging and food miles, as well as reduce food waste. Additionally, the company has developed its bio-control package, which acts as a pest preventive inside the Mia garden.
VaVersa is excited to announce the launch of a crowdfunding campaign, a strategic move aimed at propelling the company into its next phase of growth. The campaign seeks to secure resources for the expanded rollout of their existing product in the Netherlands and the introduction of the innovative Mia Garden in key European markets, including Belgium, Germany, and France.
The main market thus far has been corporate canteens, where there is a lot of application for the Mia garden. Besides that, VaVersa is focusing strongly on hotels, event spaces/event catering, and fine-dining restaurants. We are also exploring several other avenues in the coming period; we think there could be further applications in educational institutes, cruise ships & airplane catering, among others.
The Mia garden boasts an almost fully automated design, featuring removable trays for the convenience of chefs. Equipped with advanced sensors for remote monitoring of gardens and plants, the system ensures optimal conditions for plant growth. VaVersa supports chefs remotely throughout the entire growing cycle, ensuring the ease of use and consistency professional kitchens require.
VaVersa embarked on its journey in 2017 while founder Olivier Francesangeli was enrolled at Wageningen University. The start-up initially conducted a series of small-scale strategic trials to enhance the Mia Garden based on practical feedback. The current product version, launched in Q2 2022, has already found its place in various culinary settings, including Michelin-star restaurants, corporate canteens, hotels, and event spaces.
"For us, the catering industry has been very promising. We have also received a lot of interest from the hotel sector and hope to make some big strides there soon."