Urban Crop Solutions (UCS) and Dr Rudi Pauwels will set up a research center on indoor farming applications in southern Spain. Research at the center will focus on the impact of climate change on crops in Southern Europe (Such as Spain) while working on optimizing the nutrient content. For UCS, this new research center complements its existing research center in Belgium. Dr Rudi Pauwels will also advise UCS on its plant molecular farming activities.
Urban Crop Solutions has been active in researching growing plants without sunlight, in their own designed and engineered indoor farms, since 2014. Many of which have been commissioned and installed globally. Their past research activities at their headquarters in Belgium have already led to several new applications enabled by their farming technique. Their controlled environment growing techniques offer solutions to the global challenges of food scarcity and the production of plant-based ingredients and raw materials.
With Dr Rudi Pauwels – who is world-renowned for his development of the world’s most widely used and successful AIDS inhibitors, and founder of several successful biotech companies – UCS will build a new research center near Málaga in southern Spain. This research center will work on the challenges brought about by global warming in southern European regions. In these regions, there is an opportunity and a need to rethink traditional farming practices, considering the increasing water shortages, and the advantages offered by modern agriculture. With consideration to the calls that in the future, farms should focus more on the production of the most nutritious crops, UCS and Dr Rudi Pauwels, have determined their joint mission as one that optimises the nutrient content of crops, through their controlled environment agriculture techniques. It is envisaged that the research centre will be operational by early 2023. The studies will be led by Dr Rudi Pauwels and Dr Oscar Navarrete, Chief Plant Scientist at Urban Crop Solutions.
“With this initiative, I reconnect with the centuries-long agricultural tradition in my family. It was my grandfather and especially my father, a horticultural engineer, who passed onto me a lot of knowledge, and passion for this field in my childhood years” explains Dr Rudi Pauwels. “Furthermore, I believe very strongly in plant molecular farming or plant-based production. UCS’s indoor farming techniques are highly important for the use of plants as an alternative and efficient carrier, for the production of molecules of interest for various pharmaceutical products such as vaccines” he adds.
“We are very honoured that a captain of the industry, of Dr Rudi Pauwels’ calibre, wants to work with us to turn the possibilities of indoor farming into concrete realisations. This proves that we have built up a lot of expertise over the past eight years and that we have installed the right business model,” says Frederic Bulcaen, Chairman and Co-Founder of Urban Crop Solutions.
Jean Pierre Coene, CEO of Urban Crop Solutions, adds “whereas in the early years the focus of our company was exclusively on selling installations for traditional commercial food production, we are convinced that we can accelerate our growth by focusing more on installations for plant molecular farming.”
Image provided by Urban Crop Solutions. From left to right: Dr. Rudi Pauwels, Maarten Vandecruys, Frederic Bulcaen, Jean-Pierre Coene