We convert empty states into urban agro-labs
We connect empty estate owners and agro-technology companies in order to create urban techno-farms offered to educational institutions as laboratories for research and development.
Team membersMichelle Rodriguez and Rebeca Pinto
Members roles and background
Michelle Rodriguez: Co-founder of Edufarm and Architect specialist in City and Technology. Michelle is in charge of the relations with agro-technological companies, entrepreneurs, and startups.
Rebeca Pinto: Co-founder of Edufarm and Architect. Rebeca is in charge of the relations with the universities and local agrarian institutes.
Both create the leading design team focused on finding the proper estates to transform into laboratories, as well as the process of adapting the infrastructure based on the needs of the agro-technological equipment and the universities requiring the service.
Our service consists of solving the logistics behind the connection of two different providers: Estate owners and agro-technology companies in order to create high-tech urban agriculture laboratories offered to universities and agrarian institutes for research and project development.
While we offer this service, we adapt spaces in disuse in order to make them productive, profitable, and valuable. We also promote the local cultivation of organic foods, that end up reducing shipping costs and Co2 emissions from the transportation of this produce. At the same time, we reduce soil erosion in comparison to the levels produced by the traditional farming system.
Moreover, our initiative impulses and promotes agricultural education through technology. We will provide university students the high-tech facilities and equipment needed to experiment, to collect data and develop their own projects.
After the pandemic, companies, businesses, and institutions have found themselves oversized in square meters of workspace as many employees have been reassigned to remote positions. This situation has left many companies and estate owners with empty, non-productive spaces prone to disrepair.
At the same time, the pandemic has impulsed us to maintain a more local lifestyle. It has allowed communities to grow fonder of their local distributors and has opened the door for local entrepreneurs. However, when the supply chains of first-necessity products and food have presented issues, there are only so many ways that communities can help each other. In the case of agriculture, an essential practice that has its greatest developments in the outskirts of the cities, it is important to promote efforts to have it present in cities and even more appealing to city students, as it can evolve into a great career path.
With EDUFARM we are taking advantage of those empty spaces and making them productive with the creation of high-tech agro-laboratories located in urban areas in order to promote the education, learning, and experimentation of agriculture.
Solution target group
Taking into consideration the context of the problem, we have targeted Barcelona, Spain as our beachhead market.
As of now, the city of Barcelona has 232m2 of empty spaces located only in downtown Barcelona, owned by both the private and public sectors, which have been already identified as usable and valuable.
Moreover, it counts with 30 universities and 16 agrarian institutes that can make use of our high-tech agricultural laboratories located in the city center for research, classes, practices, and internships.
As for the impact of the project, it can be measured in several areas. In relation to the climate and environmental impact, having EDUFARM located in city centers will create a reduction in the Co2 normally produced in the mobility of the students from the city to the traditional farms, usually located in the outskirts of the city. Also, the installation of EDUFARM and the presence of vegetation in city centers will help to improve the quality of air and thermal comfort in their surroundings. Moreover, it could provide a more eco-friendly environment and infrastructure to the buildings in which they are present.
In economic terms, we would generate an initial profit of € 6,052 per m2 of annual rent to the universities interested in our urban agro-laboratories. However, our project allows great scalability as we could partner with local farmers to open organic markets that sell the produce of our urban farms, or with local restauranteurs in order to open organic coffee shops that use our crops as ingredients. Moreover, we could also open the laboratories for workshops with schools and the general public to promote the education focused on agriculture and the benefits we could have from technology.
These initiatives would not only increase the economic activity of our company but could also translate as economic benefits and cost reductions for our partners and the local communities around EDUFARM.
Solution tweet textUpcycling urban spaces for the future of agriculture through the creation of high-tech urban laboratories.
Although there are already farms in business buildings as open spaces to the public, these are not intended to be used by universities. We believe that universities are a strong client and that improving their conditions will be an important component to solve the logistics of the project, as well as opening future employment opportunities for these students within agriculture and technology companies.
We also generate opportunities for agricultural technology companies to have a constant flow of updated machinery that will be constantly tested by students.
In order to transfer our project, we would have to focus on urban areas where local agriculture is not strong but has educational institutions focused on them, which also counts with empty estate and workspaces.
Moreover, in order to have agriculture and organic produce present in the city life, we are able to escalate our initiative while partnering with local entrepreneurs, schools, and the general public to open organic markets where the crops from the laboratories could be sold, coffee shops and restaurants that use the produce as ingredients, and educational workshops to diffuse even more the learning of agriculture through the wonders of technology in the city centers.
In a context where the need to create a productive business out of spaces that are not in total use, plus the possibility of expanding educational and technological resources for universities, the flow of clients for our initiative will tend to grow.
Part of the strength of our proposal is that we are primarily focusing on universities as our clients, which have the economic capacity and interest in investing in their students, and their access to the updated technological tools. Understanding the fast pace of technological advances, EDUFARM will be able to periodically renew and offer our clients spaces equipped with newer high technology.
As our initiative promotes an environmental and educational impact it is prone to receive government grants as a starting point for its development. Moreover, it can create an added value to our proposal that can translate into easing the logistics, such as permits and resources, for EDUFARM.
Solution team work
Our team shares the same background, goals, and dreams therefore we had a fulfilling experience while we were learning from different topics throughout the whole process, and started brainstorming in order to meet the requirements.
We were able to come up with this idea during the time of the challenge and we are looking forward to keeping developing it as we continue to seek more sustainable and environmentally friendly cities, vaster consumption of organic products, and access to digital and technological education resources. Moreover, we are convinced of the scalability of our idea and the great outcomes that can generate.
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