Hexagro Urban Farming is a Milan-based startup leveraging vertical farming technologies to reconnect people to nature and produce healthy medicinal plants to increase well-being, creativity, and productivity in working environments.
Being one of the startups selected to participate in the SEIF Impact Academy Autumn Cycle 2018, the Hexagro team received free coaching from SEIF program partners. During the program, Hexagro was matched with and supported by the coach Chetan Tolia, the current Digital Transformation Manager of UBS. In the SEIF Impact Academy, the matching is based both on the coaches’ expertise and the startups’ current need, as indicated in their application.
In this context, Chetan supported and advised the Hexagro team on various topics, including the definition of a Massive Transformative Purpose and the shared mission of Reconnecting people to Nature through Indoor Farming, which Hexagro now uses to present its value proposition. In addition to the individual coaching sessions, SEIF provided content, coaching and input sessions to support the team in increasing and improving their social impact.
Hexagro currently participates in a new cycle of the SEIF Impact Academy, this time focusing on the launch of its product-service in Switzerland and the development of Siembra Vertical, its sister company and social enterprise. Siembra Vertical aims to make Vertical Farming technologies accessible to traditional farmers in developing countries using Hexagro’s know-how and core technologies.
“Thanks to SEIF, our team had the unique opportunity to connect with creative and ambitious innovators from all over the world sharing the same ideals as us. We believe in the potential of such cooperation and technology to give life to concrete solutions to give people and business a greener future” says Felipe Hernandez, Founder of Hexagro, talking about their participation in the SEIF community.
The Living Farming Tree – automated indoor farming system for workplaces
Hexagro has developed the so-called Living Farming Tree (LFT), an automated indoor farming system for workplaces and hospitality offered as-a-service. The Living Farming Tree provides employees and guests access to fresh and healthy medicinal plants to increase their wellbeing within indoor environments, where people are constantly spending more than 90% of their lives. Moreover, the Living Farming Tree is a modular and automated farming system using High-Pressure Aeroponics, an innovative technique developed by NASA to grow plants and food in space and save up to 90% of water consumption.
Combining exponential technologies such as 3D printing and IoT environment monitoring, Hexagro strives to boost wellness in offices where employee wellbeing and business productivity are maximized in a virtuous cycle.
“Interacting with nature at work increases employee wellbeing by 70% and productivity by 15%; that is why we strive every day to bring nature to any work environment and engage workers in the emotional experience of growing their own medicinal plants directly in the office”, says Alessandro Grampa, Co-founder of Hexagro.
Interactive Biophilic Design in Workplaces – reconnecting people to nature
Today, we spend 90% of the day indoors with very low air quality and completely disconnected from nature. This has a negative impact on our daily life, generating stress, fatigue and worsening our work performance. These symptoms are known as the Sick Building Syndrome and represent a tremendous cost in lost productivity for businesses.
Biophilic design recalls natural elements with materials, colors, and textures through the five senses within places in which we live and work, to reconnect people to nature. The benefits are obvious: they increase cognitive ability, creativity, and work performance, as well as happiness and mood. Hexagro takes inspiration from these principles and brings nature into the work environments where the need for engagement, social interactions, and productivity is the highest.
The Living Farming Tree stands out from the traditional vertical farming systems for its Biophilic Design, the use of High-Pressure Aeroponic technology (soilless and efficient in water consumption) and for being an automated IoT system that allows users to be guided through the cultivation process in an easy and fun way with a gamified application. Furthermore, a maintenance and resource supply service is offered throughout the cultivation cycle to always be sure of reaching successful crops.
Thanks to this holistic approach, Hexagro has been selected amongst the most impactful innovative businesses and has joined the international community of social entrepreneurs supported by SEIF. By cooperating and exchanging ideas together with coaches and innovators from the most varied backgrounds, Hexagro plays its part, providing the most water-efficient indoor farming system, improves wellness in the workplace and promotes social interactions.
What is next for Hexagro?
Today, Hexagro is following the first projects in collaboration, among others, with the renowned AccorHotels chain in Milan and the well-known Swiss banking group Raiffeisen (the pioneers in the introduction of the Living Farming Tree in their workplaces), the Italian banking group Intesa San Paolo, Spraying System Co. and Gruppo CAP. Meanwhile, the Hexagro team has launched the pre sale of the next 50 Living Farming Trees to be installed in Milan and its surroundings during the course of this year, for which numerous requests are being collected. The goal is to expand its network of change-makers and committed companies who are interested in increasing the well-being of their employees.