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Hai has received a Star Alumni award for the amount of positive progress they made during the course of the Seedbed Incubator programme.

Hai operates in Vertical Farming, CEA and Phenotyping. Vertical farming is one of the emerging technologies paving the way to solve our current food security challenges. This is still an emerging technology and therefore most commercial vertical farms still lack smart monitoring solutions fully fitted to their needs.

This means many vertical farms operate under the constant threat of becoming unprofitable, making it challenging for them to maintain their low operational costs - especially when dealing with plant root problems.

A common issue found in hydroponic farms (which represent ~68% of the total indoor farms around the globe) is drain blockages due to roots growing in the main pipelines. In this scenario, a simple blocked drain translates to operational problems and not complying with food standards. This happens every three weeks.

Ignoring how roots grow can lead to a loss of up to 70% of the crop, and in some cases it can shut down an entire facility for months. For a medium scale farm this issue decreases their operating margin by 5-20% - i.e., around £1M a year. This makes it hard for farmers to be sustainably profitable while maintaining a healthy return on investment in their early years.

What is your innovation, and who does this help?

Hai technology detects root clogging issues and enhances operational efficiency, ensuring the best harvest possible through diagnostics without the need for manual monitoring.

Hai develops the tools that enable indoor farmers to consistently produce high-quality crops through plant root monitoring without digging. Unlike current monitoring technologies, Hai retrofit sensors can create a precise image of the root bundle by using electrical stimulation, retrieving relevant information and feeding it into an AI platform.

What makes you passionate about your startup?

We are passionate about making positive change in the agricultural landscape, using knowledge of technology and product development. Tackling global food insecurity head-on by enabling tools for more efficient and sustainable agriculture, regardless of size or location.

Currently, what are your biggest challenges, and how has the Seedbed Incubator programme helped you to overcome these?

Seedbed helped us build and validate our proof of concept. We’ve also managed to organise some trial collaborations with the connections we made through the programme. The support that we received from all the EIT Food team was excellent and the communication was fast and easy. Beneficial connections and the feedback we received about our pitch and plans were so helpful. Overall, EIT Food helped us expand our network and test our market hypothesis. We are very grateful to the team!

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