23 of Aalto Startup Center ecosystem’s startups are attending the Arctic15 event. Arctic15 is a Startup Investor Event and a meeting spot for startup entrepreneurs, investors, corporates and media from 60+ countries.
Who are you and what do you do?
Arctic Farming: Arctic Farming is an AgriTech startup based in Otaniemi, founded in 2019 by a team of experts in the space industry with a mission to revolutionize the way food is produced on Earth and beyond by making vertical farming mainstream. Our innovative solution (patent pending) enables anyone to grow fresh herbs, leafy greens, or berries in their own premises, regardless of location. Arctic Farming’s business model is based on leasing these vertical farming appliances to the HoReCa and hospitality sectors together with a seed pod subscription, similar to Nespresso coffee pods but for vertical farming.
What kind of team do you have at the moment?
Arctic Farming: The team behind Arctic Farming consists of experienced and value-driven individuals with proven track records in various fields. Oliver Rotko, the CEO and co-founder, is a serial entrepreneur with a background in B2B sales and growth marketing. Daniel Rotko, the CSO and co-founder, is an expert in high-tech food systems and an ex-Solar Foods space applications specialist. Rodrigo Prieto Padilla, the CTO and co-founder, is a lead product engineer in a market-leading water management firm with experience in product design and rapid prototyping. Ignaty Romanov-Chernigovsky, the Head of Software, specializes in Embedded Software in the space industry.
What is your innovation?
Arctic Farming: Arctic Farming is committed to making the world a more sustainable place by revolutionizing the way fresh greens are produced. Our aim is to make vertical farming mainstream by bringing the primary production inside the end-users’ premises, thereby saving huge resources that would otherwise go into production. With a 95% water savings and no use of pesticides or herbicides, Arctic Farming’s approach to vertical farming also eliminates packaging waste and carbon emissions from logistics.
What is your innovation’s impact?
Arctic Farming: Arctic Farming’s founders share a common belief that individual impact on the environment through personal choices and acts will not solve climate change. Therefore, they have always wanted to build a scalable impact company that can create a significant impact on the world. The business model was first ideated during a Master’s level innovation course in Otaniemi, which prompted the founders to research vertical farming further and build an MVP in the spaces of Aalto University Design Factory. The business kicked off in earnest once they met their first angel investor, Henrik Poulsen, in 2019, and Arctic Farming was established later that year.
In terms of its impact on a clean and sustainable Helsinki, Arctic Farming provides healthier and more nutritious food with a smaller environmental impact compared to conventional agriculture. Moreover, by bringing food production directly into customers’ premises through a visually-appealing technology, Arctic Farming also adds value to their customers’ brands, which helps to tell the story of a more sustainable city.
What are your main Sustainable Development Goals?
SDG 2 – Zero Hunger*
SDG 11 – Sustainable Cities and Communities*
SDG 12 – Responsible Consumption and Production*
SDG 3 – Climate Action*
*Source: United Nations: sdgs.un.org/goals
What are you looking for and what are your next steps?
Arctic Farming: To measure the impact of their startup on sustainability, we’re currently searching for a reliable partner to conduct a life-cycle assessment of our product and its environmental impact. As the vertical farming market has been known to not communicate its true impact on the environment, Arctic Farming aims to change this by communicating transparently about its environmental impact with regular reports.
Arctic Farming plans to collaborate with the City of Helsinki through pilots and storytelling, aiming to establish a sustainable urban food ecosystem. As a participant in the Urban Tech Helsinki program, Arctic Farming has had a wonderful experience so far. The program offers an incredible platform for startups to collaborate with the City of Helsinki in developing solutions for some of the most pressing urban challenges.
Looking ahead, Arctic Farming aims to leverage the support and resources provided by the Urban Tech Helsinki program to achieve its goals. In 2023, we plan to finalize our first commercial product based on ongoing pilot projects, grow our team, and raise more funds to support rapid international growth. We plan to start taking over European markets in 2024, with an expected expansion to lucrative Asian markets around 2026.
To achieve these goals, Arctic Farming is looking to expand its team with competencies in software development, data processing and machine learning, plant sciences, and robotics. We are also seeking advisors with proven track records showcasing rapid growth with global hardware companies. In addition, Arctic Farming is looking for new investors for their upcoming Series A, who are interested in value-driven deep tech companies that use a combination of hardware and software to solve real sustainability issues.