“Through this initiative, we want to lower the barrier for growers in R&D and make it more accessible, so they have the opportunity to innovate as well. Luckily, we found this facility close to home and very near to fruitful collaborators in the Delta Agrifood Business office who align perfectly with our mission,” says Willem.
Co-founders Willem Kemmers, John van de Sluis, and Jeffry van Noord all have extensive backgrounds in agriculture and horticulture. As a result, they learned that there are barely to no small-scale institutions that can perform R&D analyses for small business owners on lesser-known and/or alternative crops.
“This sounds promising, but the ultimate goal is to get the math right. Based on the studies and results, we’ll come up with a revenue model to go with it to make it profitable in the end. This can be in the form of a hybrid model, growing the plants in a vertical farm, and finishing the cultivation of the plant in the open air. Ultimately, keeping energy costs at nill and integrating renewable energy can significantly help us achieve that,” says Willem.
Consisting of 25 units of 6m each, the lab already has its hands full of projects that are laid out for the coming year. Collaborating with multiple horticultural suppliers, Logiqs and Own Greens are among the partners involved in the initiative. Own Greens’ growing cabinet will be displayed in the Restaurant of Delta Agrifood Business. At the end of February, the first crops are expected to be growing inside the lab.
SIF will mainly be looking to conduct R&D in unusual crops, such as samphire and turf, which they are currently running trials with as they see big potential for it. Another focus area is going to be plant-based production for food and beyond.
The DAB is a center for innovation and expertise oriented towards the business sector and education in the field of plant-based agrifood. It aims to be a hub for new developments and, thus, an ideal place to research indoor farming. Besides researching the indoor potential of regular crops, the projects also focus on identifying opportunities for end users, such as the hospitality industry.