This interview details Optima Planta, an indoor farming company based in Sweden. The interview is with Lennart Sör, Founder/CEO of Optima Planta.
The philosophy of Optima Planta is that a set of physical parameters can strongly determine the phenotype and growth rate of a certain plant. The challenge with practically all biological sciences, including plant sciences, is the lack of data which partly has to do with very costly experiments - it takes a very long time, effort, and investments to generate production data.
We at Optima Planta began our journey by asking how we could reduce the cost of each experiment through hardware (ADA-boxes) and through software (machine learning). The result as of today is a 3rd generation ADA-box, which is a small enclosed chamber of sorts, that collects data.
The value gain we receive is due to many ADA-boxes which enables us to receive an enormous amount of high-quality data. Furthermore, the data that has been collected can be directly transferable to commercial value through these same or similar ADA-boxes.
As of now, about 300 boxes are operational, or 19,000 plants in total capacity.
Hardware is hard. Optima Planta owns all of its IP, which also means a responsibility when it comes to manufacturing and available materials. There have been challenges in the last few years in terms of electronic components and sensors, which forced us to change the circuit board at some point which caused some issues. Parts, raw materials, manufacturing, and fluctuating prices are part of the challenges we face on our scale-up journey.
We have a very close collaboration with our partners, which makes us able to tackle very hard challenges in all areas of the business - from research to manufacturing, software, cultivation of plants, logistics, and sales.
All in all, the ornamental and herbs market is in for a Great Sustainability Shift, which we are very happy to partake in. We see a great future in indoor farming technologies in this otherwise traditional industry.
At its core, Optima Planta's edge is in the methodology for collecting data and testing the commercial applicability of certain plants. At a surface-level comparison, we use high-pressure aeroponics instead of hydroponics (or humidifier-based aeroponics). We are primarily in the ornamental industry because we see we can make more valuable changes in this sector. We would make a claim that we have the most efficient technology for growing ornamental plants, both small and large scale, making it a very profitable prospect with all the added sustainability scores included.
Our products are aimed at reducing costs and maximizing profitability but also doing it much more sustainable than the alternatives. We are not manufacturing grow systems for home, office, or tangents to what is considered furniture, rather the product/solution is an industry product made for cultivation.
Our long-term goal is to secure the chain from technological development, manufacturing, deployment of a facility, and cultivation to customers, with the result of long-term satisfied customers. We want to be part of the whole chain regardless if we sell the facility or if we run it ourselves.
Not more than 500m2 although 6m vertical.
When growing so much plant material in such a small space added CO2 is a requirement in order to consistently get the growth rate and phenotype we are aiming for. We pay approximately 50€ for 15kg CO2 twice a month for the whole facility, including R&D.
Depending on the season it's 1-1,5 SEK/kWh (0.084-0,13€ /kWh). Extreme cases it's up to 2kr/kWh. The electricity is renwable, but from the grid.
We are working on a case study where we implement solar panels and battery packs for a given facility, which would make it less dependent and more sustainable.
People can also visit our website at optimaplanta.com
We are happy to talk about a specific business case with entrepreneurs i.e. cultivation of a specific crop to a medium/large customer, research or otherwise.
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