Welsh start-up could start agricultural revolution

Welsh start-up could start agricultural revolution

A Welsh start-up is aiming to launch an agricultural revolution with its unique system for growing plants hydroponically.

Phytoponics, a Cardiff-based agriculture technology company, has developed a way of growing plants using 10 times less land and water than other agricultural processes, using minimal pesticides and herbicides.

Its system, which has been described as a “Jacuzzi in a bag”, is more flexible, adaptable and affordable than existing systems on the market.

Founded by Cardiff University engineering graduate Adam Dixon in 2016, Phytoponics now employs eight staff including biotechnologists and hydroponic specialists

The company has been valued at £2 million by Finance Wales and has recently won a string of awards.

In August Mr Dixon won the Shell LiveWIRE Smarter Future Award, which awards a £5,000 start-up grant each month to one 16-30-year-old entrepreneur with an idea that addresses sustainable living challenges through smart innovation.

Last month Phytoponics was named innovative start-up of the year at the Wales Start Up Awards.

Mr Dixon has also been shortlisted for innovation entrepreneur of the year at the NatWest Great British Entrepreneur Awards in November and is one of two European finalists in the Young Champions of the Earth competition run by The United Nations Environment Programme.

Trials of the Phytoponics system are currently taking place in the UK and Europe and the company hopes to bring it to market in late 2018.

It is currently raising a £650,000 seed round.

Mr Dixon said: “Phytoponics can potentially save lives by creating an abundance in fruit and vegetable productions in places where it’s hard to grow produce or where they’ve been hit by a disaster.

“I’m really proud and happy with how far we’ve come in just one year. Big things are going to happen with Phytoponics – we can make a real impact in sustainability and food production around the world.”

Phytoponics has received support from the Welsh Government’s Accelerated Growth Program and from the Life Sciences Hub Wales in building vital strategic partnerships in the sector and beyond.

Cari-Anne Quinn, interim chief executive of the Life Sciences Hub Wales, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Welsh Government, said: “We have been proud to support Mr Dixon and his exciting start-up business.

“The Phytoponics system addresses many of the issues facing agriculture in the 21st century, such as land, water, fertiliser and pesticides.”

Mr Dixon said: “The Hub has helped us to create academic partnerships with Aberystwyth University and connected us with the Department of International Trade for international export markets.

“But more than that, the Hub has helped us to find legal counsel and patented terms for the business.”