Urban Agriculture Inventors Meet in UNIPOLI Tampere
vertical rack of pockets offers a new solution for growing plants
indoors. The rack holds several pouches which serve as pots for e.g.
Asian mint, Romaine lettuce, rosemary, lemon balm and thyme. From left,
innovation advocate Markku Oikarainen (Tampere University of Applied
Sciences), business liaison officer Leena Köppä (Tampere University of
Technology) and entrepreneur Joonas Tähtinen (Virtaustilat Ltd.).
High resolution image (1,56 Mb)
Photo: Kalle Heiska
hanging plant pockets are especially good for indoors planters. The
pocket racks make growing plants easy and save space. Pocket racks add
elements of nature into interior decorating and can be used to provide
local food at its best. A small 1–5 watt pump lifts nutrient solution
to the highest plant pocket from which it flows to lower pockets and
continues cycling. In plant pockets, nutrient solution "rinses" small
roots, a method called hydroponics.
The inventors of pocket racks received assistance in product development from the innovation services of Tampere University of Applied Sciences and Tampere University of Technology. They helped with picking up ecological materials and making manufacturing choices, as well as mapping possibilities of marketizing the idea. The idea was developed into a simple, nature friendly design product, which can easily be sent by mail as a starter pack for those interested in urban agriculture.
This fast and nimble development process of pocket racks was funded mainly privately. The most common financing options for product development were deemed too slow. The idea was also assessed by the Pirkanmaa Product Track team of Foundation for Finnish Inventions. Later, a collateral by Finnvera has been applied for, as well as funding from the local Centre for Economic Development (Ely).
A starter pack for urban cultivation contais all that is needed for planting: a rack and pump, pockets, substrates and nutrient pipes. It costs 100–200 euros depending on the height of the rack.
At the moment, the developers examine possibilities to start production e.g. in a small Zambian co-operative, in addition to Finland. Preorders will be taken by a crowd sourcing site (Indiegogo.com) in July–August 2013. The aim is to cover the expenses of producing the first set of products and starting the business.
The potential market for pocket racks is global, since there are hundreds of millions of urban planters. Spots suitable for food production are in great demand especially in dense cities. A vertical pocket rack is an excellent new solution for indoors planters in cities.
Urban agriculture is often considered as allotments only. There is lot of space in cities. Eventually several authorities are beginning to explore ideas of indoors plantations as well as cultivation in parks, courtyards and roofs. At best, urban agriculture could augment ecological recycling locally by composts.
More information: www.virtaustilat.fi
Joonas Tähtinen, entrepreneur
Tel. +358 50 336 6752
|Tampere University of Applied Sciences
Markku Oikarainen, innovation advocate
Tel. +358 40 826 7615
|Tampere University of Technology
Leena Köppä, business liaison officer
Tel. +358 50 568 5352