LIFI4FOOD: USING FARMING SOLUTIONS TO TACKLE FOOD SCARCITY
LiFi4Food is a Spanish start-up that provides solutions for digital and precision agriculture, with a research team that intends to tackle food scarcity using technology.
Spanish data network IMDEA Networks made the decision to create start-up LiFi4Food to combat food scarcity and develop food supply security. The start-up reportedly provides solutions for digital and precision agriculture, and recently made headlines after earning the top prize of the European EIT Jumpstarter programme.
“LiFi4Food aims to address the challenge of food scarcity by promoting food production in high-tech agri-food facilities such as vertical farms and greenhouses,” said Dayrene Frómeta, IMDEA Networks PhD student and start-up co-founder in a news release.
“From LiFi4Food we want to provide these facilities with battery-free IoT [Internet of things] devices with sensors and actuators to help them operate these farms in a more efficient and sustainable way.”
How does LiFi4Food innovate with food technology?
The Spanish start-up connects battery-free sensors to the internet using LiFi wireless communication technology. In turn, this allows for the development of sustainable solutions for precision agriculture, with a communication system that is run by IoT devices, which are self-sustainable and free of batteries, and monitor and operate high-tech facilities across agriculture like vertical farms as well as greenhouses and other types of farms.
Additionally, LiFi4Food makes use of the diode lamps that feature in agri-food facilities to set a LiFi network. This supplies power and data to said facilities in a way that uses solar energy and not batteries.
The start-up has said it intends to lower the CO2 emissions of agri-food facilities, making them more sustainable in the long term.
“We also promote food production close to the consumer, which will reduce CO2 emissions due to food transportation. In addition, the vast amount of data collected by our system will increase the traceability of food production systems and thus the trust that consumers place in them,” said Ms. Frómeta.
Reports indicate that solutions from LiFi4Food will also have a big impact on the operating costs and output of agriculture facilities.
“Our IoT devices will be distributed among the crops to continuously measure parameters such as temperature, humidity or Ph. This data will be sent to our servers and presented to the end user in our LiFi4food app, so they can also communicate with the IoT devices to, for example, take a measurement or activate actuators or the irrigation system,” Ms. Frómeta said.
“Automating tasks and optimising resource use will result in reduced energy, lighting, water and labour costs as well as enhanced production yields and higher quality crops.”
LiFi4Food: the story so far
The Spanish start-up was inspired by a simple question with a complicated answer: “do we have a secure food supply for the future?”. The IMDEA Networks said this was the question which eventually led them to found LiFi4Food. During the European EIT Jumpstarter programme, the IMDEA Networks team said they developed innovative ideas, with the eventual business model resulting in the founding of LiFi4Food.
The research team reportedly received training on start-up methodology from Silicon Valley, which was then adapted to the European market, with efforts made to streamline aspects like business, market segmentation as well as other financial aspects.
Food sources that are both reliable and have high quality are facing a range of challenges such as climate change and soil degradation, with this new start-up intending to combat food scarcity by encouraging the production of food in high-tech facilities.
“From LiFi4Food we want to provide these facilities with battery-free IoT devices with sensors and actuators to help them operate these farms in a more efficient and sustainable way,” said Ms. Frómeta.