Urban Crop Solutions (UCS) has established itself as a leader in indoor farming through the launch of its state-of-the-art research center in Belgium. The facility, equipped with cutting-edge technology, serves as a hub for conducting trials and research in various aspects of crop cultivation. With a team of experienced plant scientists, the research center has successfully performed over a thousand trials in just three years.
One of the notable achievements of the UCS research center is the formulation of over 230 commercially feasible plant growth algorithms. These algorithms are accessible to clients and utilized in the company’s growth solutions. While screening crops for consumption remains a key focus, including edible flowers, fruit crops, herbs, leafy greens, and microgreens, the team has also ventured into innovative and sustainable solutions for alternative industries. For instance, they have made significant strides in plant production for the textile industry, achieving improved quality and reduced growing time compared to traditional methods.
Additionally, UCS has been at the forefront of research on using plants as bioreactors for biotech and pharmaceutical purposes. By successfully commercializing certain plants as replacements for mammalian-based bioreactors, the company has contributed to the production of animal-free protein. This breakthrough led to the launch of their PharmSpee platform, which earned them recognition as the fourth most innovative company in the EMEA region by Fast Company in 2022.
While UCS acknowledges the importance of traditional and greenhouse farming methods, they firmly believe that indoor farming can complement and enhance existing agricultural practices. To this end, they actively collaborate with greenhouse growers and traditional farmers to incorporate indoor farming into their operations. For example, they have conducted trials to expedite the growth of seedlings and cuttings for greenhouse growers and improve root production in vines for a wine cooperative.
To expand its research capabilities, UCS established a research center in the south of Spain in partnership with renowned pharmacologist Dr. Rudi Pauwels. This center focuses on studying the impact of climate change on crops in Southern Europe while optimizing nutrient content. Dr. Pauwels also advises the company on plant molecular farming activities, further strengthening their research efforts.
UCS also invests in training future generations. They offer internships to local and Erasmus students and have launched an indoor farming training program in collaboration with a local school. The company donated an indoor farm to support hands-on learning experiences for students.
With a highly qualified and evolving team, continuous engagement in ongoing trials, and investment from local and European projects, Urban Crop Solutions has established itself as a key research partner in the field of indoor farming. The company’s commitment to innovation and collaboration positions them as a go-to partner for commercial growers and public-private research institutes worldwide.
Maarten Vandecruys, Founder & CTO of Urban Crop Solutions, emphasized the importance of research in realizing the full potential and impact of indoor farming. He expressed pride in the team’s rapid development and expansion of their research offering, which has opened up new possibilities for various sectors. Urban Crop Solutions operates as an end-to-end indoor farming solutions provider, offering support in contract research trials, business planning, and the engineering and construction of indoor farms. Their own award-winning indoor farming solutions can be implemented globally, catering to diverse environments and locations. With its extensive plant growth recipe library, global module deployments, and installations across four continents, UCS is a trusted partner for commercial growers and public-private research institutes.
Image provided by Urban Crop Solutions