The Galician startup has developed a proprietary technology that guarantees the crops’ maximized quality and it’s permanent availability, reducing costs and investments

Spanish farmers are, on average, 61,4 years old. In less than five years, most of them will cease to work the fields. “It’s one of the problems that lead us to found this company”, explains Iván García, CEO and cofounder of Néboda Farms. “We are the farmers of the future, in the present”; adds García. The startup from Vigo’s proposal is based on applying the lean manufacturing methodology, with three decades of success on their backs within the vehicle manufacturing industry, to the vertical farming business. The goal? Reducing costs on top of growing quality and productivity.

The company has developed a farming platform with proprietary technology in order to produce high added value vegetables. “We are capable of minimizing the costs. Our robot has the maximum possible capabilities. This is key, because one of the problems interior vertical agriculture has to do with the needed investments and personnel expenses, much higher than on the field”, details García.

Néboda has managed to manipulate and obtain data from all of the farming containers located in their installations with no need for human intervention. The founding members have applied their previous knowledge to the development of automatic systems, with the inclusion, for example, of servo engines, which allow for the generation of movement in the robot.

Additionally, they count with the experience of Anne Krus, CTO of Néboda, doctor within the field of agroengineering. “She spent five years analizing images of drones combined with artificial intelligence. This allows us to take specific methods into the field of interior vertical agriculture in order to obtain metrics of the crops that would be impossible to obtain manually”. A lesser human intervention also reduces the risk of the introduction of plagues and diseases that affect the crops. “The scientific knowledge allows us to multiply the efficiency of the crops three fold, while simultaneously improving their quality”.

On top of the challenges of agriculture when it comes to introducing new profiles willing to work within the sector, there is another series of conditioning factors that have originated what, for Iván García, is a perfect storm. “Climate change is a reality that forces the market to adopt sustainable practices and new water managing procedures. “Néboda‘s crops have the same consistency and quality during the whole year. Currently, retailers suffer the fluctuations of climate change and they witness how their effects ‘break’ the stock”

For now, in Néboda Farms, they have focused on a main line of business lead by the cultivation of basil. But the platform they have developed is flexible and scalable, apt for the cultivation of a high variety of products. “We’re analyzing new opportunities. We have plenty of options, due to the system accepting plants up to 30cm high. Pretty much any variety fits there. Beyond foods and other vegetables, in the future we will be able to incorporate business lines such as the cosmetics and medicine lines of business”.

With a B2B tripe direction model -restaurants, HORECA distributors and retailers- Néboda expects to sell the entirety of their productive capabilities during the first trimester of 2024. If everything goes according to plan, in 2026 production will scale to industrial levels, with an expected manufacturing of 5 M€. “After we have settled into the national market, we will explore further. In 2028 we hope to count on four production centers which we will build near big cities”.

Spain Foodtech

For six months, every startup benefits from a customized work plan, with a methodology tailor made to guarantee their success in the market and access to investors. “Being a part of the program is a unique opportunity. Thanks to them, it’s easier to access investments and potential clients. What’s more, it opens doors to key technological partners for the development of a business such as ours”, concludes Iván García.

Original article: Néboda Farms: innovación y eficiencia industrial aplicadas a los cultivos verticales – Juan F. Carlo, InnovaSpain (12/12/2023)

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