The agricultural cooperative fenaco and ETH spin-off YASAI are exploring the possibility of realizing a pilot project in the field of vertical farming that is unique across the world. This is to be based on the principles of the circular economy and facilitate sustainable food production practices.

future agriculture begins in greater zurich

The start-up YASAI and fenaco are planning to realize the world’s first vertical farming pilot project based on the principles of the circular economy in Zurich. In total, the partners have invested a sum of 1.5 million Swiss francs for this purpose, as detailed in a press release issued by YASAI. According to information from the company itself, fenaco’s investment comprises a loan totaling 500,000 Swiss francs.

Vertical farming is an innovative form of production in the field of urban agriculture. It aims to produce fruit, vegetables and herbs the whole year round in building complexes across several levels stacked on top of each other. In the Zurich pilot project, productivity should be increased by a factor of 10x to 15x per square meter thanks to a layered construction method, the press release explains. In addition, water consumption will be cut by 90 percent overall. Another advantage of this approach is that pesticides are not used at all or, where absolutely necessary, only in marginal volumes.

The overarching objective of the Zurich-based pilot project is to gain key insights for future large-scale projects. Another aim, among several others, is to verify the financial viability in terms of economies of scale across various product categories as well as to reduce energy consumption by exploiting synergies. YASAI and fenaco are also planning to cooperate with Agroscope for this new pilot project in order to find answers to “central agronomic questions”.

“Thanks to the cooperation with fenaco, we now have a strong industrial partner with a great deal of market and customer knowledge in the space on our side. This is extremely valuable when scaling up the technology and penetrating the Swiss market”, comments Mark Zahran, CEO of YASAI, in the press release. YASAI was founded as a spin-off from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETH) and develops various solutions in the field of vertical farming.

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