Global population is projected to reach 10 billion by year 2050, resulting in a higher demand for food by 50% compared to 2013. As land area for agriculture is limited, possibilities for urban food production have raised a lot of interest in the last several years. However, high financial value of urban space makes it difficult to achieve an economically viable business. Therefore, resource-efficient production is required on several levels, including use of renewable energy, cutting edge engineering solutions, energy-efficient equipment, circular production models with waste, nutrient and water recycling technologies, as well as diversified and untypical revenue streams, especially for smaller food production volumes. For this complex challenge, requiring a bundle of competencies in engineering, biology, agriculture, aquaculture, finances and design, we teamed up with multidisciplinary research and industry experts from Iceland, Netherlands and Slovenia, forming a consortium Samraekt-Growing Together.
The team developed a solution for a cost- and energy-effective food production firstly starting as a proof of concept, which was done through several innovation competitions organized by municipalities in Sweden and Iceland together with leading industry stakeholders, who were offering sites and infrastructure. We were awarded second prize in open innovation competition Urban Food from Residual Heat in Sweden and were selected finalists for C40 Reinventing Cities in Iceland for demonstrating an economically viable and resource-efficient method for circular production of fish and vegetables, using an unique energy management based on utilizing waste heat from surrounding industrial sources.
After successful proof of concept, Samraekt– Growing together business strategy is now mature for investment and implementation in the partner cities. We are currently working on construction of a demonstration facility in Reykjavik, Iceland. To be continued.