Growponics’ R&D project for nitrogen fixation has been granted the Seal of Excellence and has passed Phase 1 of the EIC SME Instrument, with a grant of €50,000. The SME Instrument is a part of the EU program Horizon 2020, aimed at small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) with ground-breaking ideas and innovations.

Our project is focused on developing a process for the production of a sustainable organic hydroponic fertilizer, utilizing nitrogen fixed by cyanobacteria. Nitrogen is one of the key elements required for the growth of any living organism, used for the production of proteins. The majority of organisms cannot use nitrogen from the air. The few organisms who can perform this task, transform nitrogen from air into organic compounds (like ammonia and nitrates), that can be metabolized by the organisms who need it but cannot make these by themselves. Most plants cannot fix nitrogen, and this is why they rely on obtaining it through nutrients found in ground and water. Hydroponically grown plants rely on supplemented fixed nitrogen – fertilizers.

What kind of nitrogen fertilizers are available now?

Current synthetic fertilizers use nitrogen produced in the Haber process. This process requires a large amount of energy, and also emits undesired greenhouse gases. Organic fertilizers that are currently available are expensive, or their nitrogen is of low availability to plants, or they are high in sodium – all are disadvantages which prevent commercial use.

What is our project all about?

We are developing a method for production of nitrogen in-situ by cyanobacteria, from air and water, using the sun as a source of energy. The entire process is efficient and ecologically sustainable, and will allow hydroponic growers to provide their crops with the necessary nitrogen in an environmentally friendly way.

The grant of €50,000 awarded in Phase I will allow us to complete our feasibility study and prepare a business plan ready for scale up. We intend to proceed to Phase II (scale-up and commercial readiness) and Phase III (business acceleration). Hopefully, in ~3 years time we can be in the market with a commercial solution, to be used by our partner greenhouses and proceeding to other projects internationally.

To read more about our project on the EIC SME website click here.

In the photo: cyanobacteria (the blue strings) as caught under microscope in our R&D lab.

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 832574

Image result for eu logo