iFarm, the winner of The Europas Awards 2020 as the Hottest Ag/FoodTech startup, supported Urban Greenhouse Challenge: Reforest, an international competition held at TPU.
iFarm creates technologies to grow fresh herbs, berries and vegetables throughout the year, including modular automated vertical farms and iFarm Growtune IT-platform. The company clients can build their own farms of 50 to 5 000 m2 and grow a wide range of crops, controlling the production through a software application. In 2020, iFarm raised $4 million to develop iFarm Growtune and agritechnologies. The iFarm offices are open in Novosibirsk, Moscow and Amsterdam. There is also a showroom in Finland. The herbs, grown using iFarm technologies, are sold in all federal chain stores of Russia.
iFarm is a winner of the CovHack-2020 Virtual Innovation Challenge in the Best Startup category, a winner of the Nordic Startup Awards in the Best Social Impact Startup category, an Overall Indoor Farming Solution Provider of the Year in AgTech Breakthrough-2020 Awards in the Indoor Farming category and others.
Urban farming arises at the intersection of multiple technological disciplines: agricultural engineering, engineering and IT. We consider that similar competitions help teams to dive into such a multidisciplinary environment, master their skills and further, together with us, change approaches to plant growing. It does not matter if it is about trees or food products, the set of technologies will be approximately the same,” Kirill Zelenski, iFarm Europe Managing Director, says.
In his opinion, the topic of growing tree seedlings in vertical farms is very important as multiple man-made factors impact the planet deforestation. The situation can be improved by joining all intellectual achievements of the humankind. Moreover, agriculture, in general, is going through a crisis: croplands and water resources are reducing. Meanwhile, on the contrary, the Earth’s population is rapidly growing and becoming more urbanized.
According to the experts, the problems of food security in cities will be solved by urban farmers, the specialists, who will be able to apply new approaches for farm-to-fork plant growing.
“The events like Urban Greenhouse Challenge are an investment in the development of a new industry, staff training and highlighting really crucial problems, that humanity is going to face soon,”
Kirill Zelenski emphasizes.
Besides the lecture part, the iFarm representatives will take part in mentoring the teams over the period of the competition. The company is interested in involving as many students from different countries as possible in this new industry.
“Non-specialists are usually the ones who change technological approaches to various fields of life. For instance, it was Henry Ford who made a revolution in people transportation but not the companies, which had been constructing carts and carriages for centuries. iFarm is a striking case in point. It is an IT-company that creates automated vertical farming technologies applying knowledge and approaches that have almost never been used in agriculture before. Therefore, what we expect from students is different, even the most incredible but well-elaborated ideas, which we will help them implement. We wish the participants not to be afraid to ask questions and try to understand things that they are not good at yet. Only such an audacious approach leads to the emergence of new and breakthrough solutions,” the expert claims.