"Produce more, but better!" That is the slogan of the Provence start-up Vegetal Grow Development (VGD). The young company, created in 2018 after three years of research and development, has launched the first lighting management platform that analyzes sun exposure and conditions to optimize the production of fruits, vegetables, flowers, herbs and other plants.
On the Sival, VGD showed their platform that helps growers define & reach their goals by implementing sensors in the greenhouse that calculate how to adjust the lighting.
Founded in 2018
After a long period of testing and development, the VGD solution was founded in 2018 by three young entrepreneurs: Sebastien Deprade, Guillaume Marie and Nicolas Chauvin. Things evolved rapidly after that: the self-funded, profitable start-up nowadays employs 10 people and has already signed several partnerships with research, laboratory and industrial leaders; small and large growers; agricultural cooperatives; local governments; and the vertical farming sector. "In the next few months, we will celebrate our first one million Euros in sales. Although our international deployment is still in the consolidation phase, the company opened a fund-raising round for over €2 million so that growers around the world can take advantage of our innovations", they say.
"As consumers become aware of the catastrophic carbon footprint of the vegetables we eat and the loss of flavor in imported products, the market is reorganizing to grow foods closer to the consumer in environments that no longer require hardly any pesticides or fertilizers in accordance with the principles of more sustainable development", they explain.
That's why they created the Vegetal Grow Development smart lighting platform. "It naturally improves plant growth (up to 300%) and crop reproducibility, preserves and enhances the organoleptic properties of vegetables (e.g. taste, appearance) and enables energy cost savings of 30% to 60% by using LED technology and ‒ more importantly ‒ artificial intelligence."
In concrete terms, this made-in-Provence solution (although Provence is not the part of France where the product is in greatest demand, some local growers happily use VGD technology) is a platform that combines software, powerful sensors and LED lighting equipment that can be deployed in a few days to a farm, commercial greenhouse or grow room. The first versions of the service were delivered in late 2018 and the results are already evident on several acres of crops.
"This innovation is not just for growers", the team continues. "Seed producers, research and development centers, pharmaceutical laboratories, local governments and prestigious technical institutes quickly joined the ranks of the first customers."
"To address the issues related to consumer expectations and to better nourish future generations who are ever more mindful of what they put on their plates, we wanted to focus our efforts on two key stages in food production: consuming less energy and, above all, improving the taste properties of local output. VGD's major innovation is to break down the light spectrum to deliver the right range of light, which means plants receive the right light at the right time thanks to our improved sensors and the artificial intelligence of our platform," explains Sébastien Deprade, Chairman of VGD.
"Through long-term, close collaboration with leading plant R&D organizations and major seed producers, we were able to integrate into our platform specific matrices based on crop profiles (species and variety) and ‒ most importantly ‒ the plant's growth stage (flowering, germination, etc.). The genius of our solution lies in providing only the light needed at just the right stage in growth," notes Nicolas Chauvin, Director of R&D, Plant Physiology.
About Vegetal Grow Development
It won an award at SIVAL 2018 as soon as it was released. As a member of the Terralia and Vegepolys competitiveness clusters, it quickly attracted esteemed experts and partners to push the concept even further. The first supporters and customers made it possible to confirm the relevance of the concept and to validate the physiological benefits and productivity gains.