Gearbox Innovations invents, designs and produces smart products in the field of robotics and automation, self-learning software and vision solutions. The technologies assess and report in real time on the quality and growth of the plants in the greenhouse, in order to optimise the cultivation and packing process, save costs and improve product quality. Gearbox was found 5 years ago in a garage, and now works on the digitisation and robotisation of horticulture with 30 full-time employees. All the products thereby reinforce one another, with the end goal of being able to capture the product and crop consistently in algorithms throughout the supply chain from breeder to the supermarket distribution centre, and thereby be able to provide important data and advice.
The jury said: Gearbox in the Westland region has developed over the past 5 years from an R&D consultancy for horticulture into an impressive scale-up with a portfolio of products from the greenhouse to the shed that also all make use of interchangeable modules. This means they are well-positioned to develop new products in partnership with the end users. A good example of this is the GearRover, a harvest assistant that indicates which flowers and fruit are ripe for harvesting. Gearbox is a master of agile product development, whereby the company always works with the customer to identify what adds value.
In order to optimise cultivation processes in the production of vegetables and make them more sustainable, Royal Brinkman has developed a harvest forecasting robot for tomatoes - the Plantalyzer - in collaboration with WUR, LetsGrow and Berg Hortimotive Group. The robot travels through the greenhouse autonomously and takes targeted photographs of the tomatoes. Algorithms assess the fruit for ripeness, and translate the images into a reliable and accurate harvest forecast. The collaboration is unique thanks to high quality hardware and intelligent software. A measurement protocol has been developed for reliable random sample data collection, and photographs taken at three different heights in order to be able to track the crop and fruit development.
The jury said: The Plantalyzer from Royal Brinkman/Hortikey is a clear example of a ‘first mover’ in the field of autonomous systems for harvest forecasting. The practical introduction of the system is being developed as part of Royal Brinkman. What is thereby notable is that they are working on the automation from greenhouse to packing as part of Hortilogics, a partnership for full-service turnkey automation, and are therefore having an impact on a large proportion of the supply chain.
Blue Radix is an AI tech business with a focus on international greenhouse horticulture. Blue Radix develops Artificial Intelligence solutions for the full automation of daily activities and processes in greenhouse. They are thereby solving the problem of the labour shortage, and bringing about a better and more sustainable production result. With a diverse multidisciplinary team of 20 employees, Blue Radix is working on the Crop Controller, a data-driven solution for autonomous cultivation. Cultivation experts are working side-by-side with data scientists and data engineers on the development. The Crop Controller thereby makes it possible to reduce growers’ manual activities and routine thinking to almost nil. Based on the cultivation strategy, smart algorithms integrate enormous quantities of data and control the systems in the greenhouse autonomously and 24 hours per day. The greenhouse climate is constantly balanced and optimised in order to achieve the grower’s goals in terms of yield, quality and sustainability.
The jury said: Blue Radix is a pioneer in the development of technology for autonomous climate control. The company came third in the WUR’s first autonomous greenhouse challenge, and was thereby described as the business with the most rapidly usable potential. They have certainly confirmed that in recent years by steadily progressing in the development of their data-driven technology. It is good to see that they are managing to reach both foreign growers and increasing numbers of Dutch growers. Growers abroad often already see added value in the product from the start due to the lack of local horticulture knowledge. Over the past year increasing numbers of Dutch growers have also been signing up who want to follow the developments up close, use the Crop Controller for their cultivation process, and use the system for upscaling.
Blue Radix has been nominated by Flynth adviseurs en accountants and Rabobank.
PATS Indoor Drone Solutions is a young business that exploits the ability to detect and eradicate harmful insects in greenhouses using drones. PATS helps growers in greenhouse horticulture to reduce crop losses, limit the use of crop protection products and automate a labour-intensive process. The system consists of a small drone, a charging station and a camera system. The camera system can search for pest insects, after which the drone eliminates the insect. The more data the software acquires as input, the better it can provide the growers with information about pest insects and the drones can do their work.
The jury said: PATS drones is a company with a high ‘charm factor’: technology that appeals to the imagination and enthusiastic entrepreneurs. They are striving to translate the possibilities offered by technology into answers to the grower’s challenges.
With technology from the aerospace engineering faculty at TU Delft and input from horticulture businesses, they are working on new, valuable developments for sustainable and chemical-free crop protection.
Pats Drones has been nominated by Greenport Duin- en Bollenstreek