Heliponix LLC, now operating under the brand name anu™ (formerly known as gropod®), a startup founded by Purdue University alumni, has been awarded a $200,000 Indiana Manufacturing Readiness Grants (MRG) to enhance the production of its aeroponic seed pod consumables.
The MRG, an initiative by the Indiana Economic Development Corp., is managed by Conexus Indiana and the Next Level Manufacturing Institute. Established in 2020, the program aids Indiana manufacturers in adopting innovative technologies to boost capacity, productivity, and competitiveness.
Anu, the brainchild of Purdue Polytechnic Institute graduates Scott Massey and Ivan Ball, offers an intelligent garden appliance. This compact, fully-automated indoor greenhouse facilitates the growth of daily servings of produce using subscription-based seed pods.
Aeroponics, a subset of hydroponics, allows plants to grow without soil. Massey highlighted the pods’ capability to cultivate fresh, premium produce, encompassing leafy greens, herbs, ornamental plants, and an expanding range of fruiting plants like peppers and tomatoes.
Massey elaborated on the technology: “Our cultivation chambers leverage deep-learning, computer-vision algorithms, yielding results superior to other controlled-environment agricultural technologies. Consuming over 95% less water and energy than traditional farming and eliminating the need for pesticides, these chambers present an eco-friendly solution for year-round accelerated growth.”
The recent funding is set to propel Anu’s mission to offer a sustainable platform for consumers through regular seed pod subscriptions. Massey envisions this initiative soon to surpass the yields of the world’s largest farms, adding, “Our goal is to become the world’s largest farm without owning any land.”
Mitch Landess, Vice President of Innovation and Digital Transformation at Conexus Indiana, emphasized the importance of manufacturing entrepreneurship, particularly tech-driven, for Indiana. He praised anu’s blend of intellectual property, local venture capital, and collaboration with larger manufacturing entities.
In recognition of his contributions, Conexus Indiana recently honored Massey with a spot in the Conexus Indiana Rising 30 Class of 2023, celebrating outstanding professionals under 30 in advanced manufacturing and logistics.
Expressing gratitude for the support, Massey reminisced about his journey from being a Purdue student with a vision to his current role in anu. He lauded Conexus for its resources and recognition, adding, “Indiana’s rich history in advanced manufacturing makes it the ideal base for our operations.”
Anu’s growth has also been fueled by a $100,000 investment from the Ag-Celerator Fund, co-established by the Purdue Research Foundation and Purdue’s College of Agriculture. Additionally, the startup has secured Phase I and II SBIR grants from the National Science Foundation, complemented by matching funds from Elevate Ventures.
(Photo/Indiana Economic Development Corp.)