Demo Day highlight – Optimum conditions in wooden vertical farms ensure food security as the climate warms up

Demo Day highlight – Optimum conditions in wooden vertical farms ensure food security as the climate warms up

VIS (Vacuum Insulation System) is an innovation that enhances vertical farming. It is based on wooden insulation technology built inside a wood frame and enabling vacuum drying. It is used to create a vacuum inside a wooden construction element by means of a pump. Vacuum drying keeps the wood dry and mould-free even in conditions of high humidity.

Led by Pasi Herranen and Panu Miettinen, the project objective is to launch the VIS Plant Factory, a wooden vertical farm, on the market.

‘The construction is completely insulated, which ensures optimal conditions for farming. In a traditional greenhouse, windows can be opened to eliminate humidity. Without VIS technology, air humidity that cannot be eliminated in a closed system would cause a challenge for the constructed vertical farm. With the help of this innovation, it is possible to build vertical farms that are more energy- and cost-efficient than the current glass greenhouses’, Miettinen explains.

‘Megatrends support vertical farms that save 95–99% of water. The closed system makes them suitable for both hot and cold climates, which means that food security is no longer dependent on the climate. Not only are we fighting climate change, but also preparing for it by ensuring that food production can be protected in all conditions. Our goal is to make vertical farming sustainable and profitable’, Miettinen continues.

During the project, a 50m² VIS test greenhouse will be built in Piikkiö.

‘At the moment, the method is suitable for the farming of low-calorie salad plants, but in the future, the aim is also to cultivate beans and other foods containing proteins’, Miettinen says.

Aiming to become a startup in Aalto Startup Center

VIS will remain a TUTLI – (The New business from research idea) project for a short while longer. The TUTLI status will end this year, after which VIS aims to set up an enterprise and become a customer of the Aalto Startup Center business accelerator.

‘Aalto Startup Center is an expertise hub with an excellent location. Our solution requires between 5 and 10 important partners, and the Aalto Startup Center community’s networks will be helpful in this. It is also relevant that we are familiar with the Startup Center staff as they have coached us with the TUTLI applications’, Panu Miettinen says, explaining the attraction of Aalto Startup Center.

Funding service for TUTLI has been renewed in the beginning of the year 2020 and the name has changed. The name of the service is now Research to Business.

Read more about VIS:

The Aalto Startup Center’s annual Demo Day event on Thursday 5 March offered startups a business accelerator, while mentors were provided with a platform for presenting their business ideas to investors and others interested in new innovations. Organised at the A Grid centre for growth companies in Otaniemi, the event brought together over 40 companies which are either part of the Aalto Startup Center’s business accelerator community, ESA BIC Finland which focuses on space research, or Aalto University’s Research to Business projects. Nearly 200 visitors attended the event.