The Youth Citizen Entrepreneurship Competition is an activity within the framework of the UNESCO Global Action Programme (GAP) on Education for Sustainable Development (ESD)

OwnGrow

Published on July 5, 2014 um 17:47

Summary of your idea

Our idea is to offer customers an ability to grow plants indoors and thus reduce strain on the surrounding infrastructure and enable users to grow their own food. In order to achieve that we developed OwnGrow personalised, autonomous, easy to use and innovative growth cabinet. OwnGrow is relatively small (smaller models the size of dishwasher, larger ones the size of a larger refrigerator) and compact (it offers high yield per space used). In order to grow plants OwnGrow utilises deep water hydroponics with circulating medium coupled with artificial lighting, automatic pH, temperature, aeration and medium composition and discharge regulation. Thus OwnGrow is taking care of most parameters user only has to harvest ripe plants, insert new cartages with seeds and refill stock solutions when needed. Because OwnGrow grows plants indoors we can manipulate vegetation periods and light cycles, so plants grow faster, all year around and are healthier with no need for pesticides and other harmful chemicals. So far we have produced our first working prototype with medium aeration and circulation. Our next steps are going to include medium optimisation, artificial lighting and digitalisation of automatic regulation of medium, lighting and aeration. Once we have all components working we will focus on product exterior and will even further improve user friendliness.

Expected impact of your idea on sustainable development

The starting point for OwnGrow is the notion of sustainable development and on-site food production. We strive to use organic production which maintains a genuine contact with nature. OwnGrow is mainly aimed at people who live in urban centers as OwnGrow enables them to grow their own garden and thus produce high quality plants without the need for pesticides and these plants in turn provide reliable and safe source of food. As in OwnGrow plants will be insulated from free living pests and diseases there will be no need for pesticides and insecticides. With OwnGrow we will enable our customers to produce fresh and quality herbs and vegetables through all year with high yields. Moreover OwnGrow users will be able to cultivate the plants which are not typically grown in a given geographic area and thus enable them more diverse food while reducing footprint on Earth. With our product we are going to minimize the use of natural resources and replace them with alternatives. We plan to use alternative energy (such as solar cells where possible) sources to generate electricity and to lower water consumption with the use of rainwater. Where solar power would prove unpractical or impossible OwnGrow will consume the majority of electricity for growing plants during the night when electrical grid is not as overloaded and thus reducing its footprint.

Plans for implementation and sustainability

In the end of June we launched our first prototype where we are testing flow and composition of medium as well as different vegetables. In the end of July we will move hydroponic system to an enclosed space (stripped old dishwasher) where we will be able to evaluate stability of our system in the field of contamination and performance under artificial light. We are planning to add aeration pumps, artificial light and optimize medium to achieve approximation of our final product. We will also focus on troubleshooting to figure out critical improvements necessary for success of our product. Third prototype will have improved design of interior and exterior and will be made from biodegradable materials printed with 3D printer. It will be launched in the end of the summer. We will improve composition of medium, define dosing of nutrients as well as optimize aeration, flow of medium and develop automatic dosing algorithms followed by increase of user friendliness. We are also considering adding weak UV light to avoid contamination risk. Public will be informed about our work in the middle of autumn. To achieve sustainability of our product we will aim for usage of biodegradable materials, reuse of waste product (medium) as fertilizers for houseplants and energy self-sufficiency (solar cells). We are planning to constantly pursue improvements and extensions of our offer. After launching we will start cooperating with local company HomeOgarden which will supply us with concentrated and compacted soil which will be adjusted for our growth chamber. We are exploring possibility of adding some beneficial organisms as nitrogen-fixing microorganisms which will enrich soil/medium and enable users obtain better yield. Two years after implementation we are aiming to achieve fully customized product which will satisfy every possible need of costumers.

Your profile

One of the owners of this idea is iga Strmek, who is also a driving force behind most engineering related work. iga was born on 24th of August 1991 and he has been close to gardening since young age as his family lives in the countryside with gardens and forest nearby. He has also shown great interest in science and engineering since early days. He finished primary and secondary school with excellence and continued studies on Poljane Grammar School. After that he studied BSc Biotechnology, where he started his research career in research group Integratomics TIME researching epigenetics of miRNAs in cancer. His career so far has been fruitful and outstanding as he has many publications. He also won many awards (Regional diploma from Biology, National diploma from Mathematics etc.) and worked as Laboratory assistant in laboratories. But despite all this he still pursued his other interests two of these are gardening and hydroponics. At the moment iga is first year MSc Industrial Pharmacy with great ambitions and ideas combined with knowledge and young team that knows how to bring those ideas to life. iga has been working with plants since he planted his first garden at the beginning of primary school and has grown a garden every year since then. Moreover he is quite handy and knows how to make things work. As he is also a scientist by heart he likes to experiment with different and sometimes unconventional techniques, plants and technologies one of those is hydroponics. He first met with hydroponics during studies and he fell in love with the idea since then he had build few simple and small hydroponics systems where he gained necessary knowledge of medium composition, electronics, plant requirements, teamwork, coordination etc. needed for realisation of ideas such as OwnGrow.

Stage of Idea

conceptual stage

Your idea has a positive impact on

environment, education, health, sustainable energy, food security

Few working/development sketches pt.1

Few working/development sketches pt.2

New ideas for future development

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Comments

July 6, 2014 11:11

I have just voted you as number 1. Simultaneously vote me at:

https://www.entrepreneurship-campus.org/groups/entrepreneurship-competition-2013/contests/1/1262

Thanks.