Opening of the NUS Agritech Center in Singapore
The establishment of this center aims to produce locally 30% of the nutritional needs of the population by 2030
A stone’s throw from the NUS campus, nestled in a shady spot in Singapore Science Park, is one of the newest innovation and incubation facilities powered by NUS Enterprise – the NUS Agritech Center.
Housed in the Cavendish building, the NUS Agritech Center is a unique amalgamation of art and technology – a sandbox for researchers, entrepreneurs and visionaries to present challenges, experiment and explore market-based solutions in agriculture. .
The creation of this center is in line with Singapore’s “30 by 30” objective, which aims to locally produce 30% of the population’s nutritional needs by 2030. The center is designed to support start-ups in postharvest growth; building capacity to service food options in urban agriculture from the lab to the table.
“What I’m doing is providing facilities at an affordable cost to our promising young start-ups. This will speed up the capabilities of their companies, which in itself would be very difficult to do, ”said Professor Freddy Boey, NUS Vice President (Innovation and Enterprise).
“More and more, we are finding more and more NUS spinoffs from the Graduate Research Innovation Program (GRIP) engaged in this area. We will very deliberately pursue agritech and urban agriculture as a theme in our business creation programs, ”he added.
The center is one of the first in NUS to provide such dedicated support to agro-tech start-ups using state-of-the-art tools and controls to provide an optimized infrastructure and environment for urban agricultural innovation and production.
The nearby NUS Enterprise @ Singapore Science Park is a synergy for the center, another NUS Enterprises incubation facility housing agro-tech start-ups as well as those focused on food technology, connected devices, environmental solutions. and health. It also has a demonstration platform that offers start-ups from both facilities a space conducive to prototyping.
Spanning 800 m², the NUS Agritech Center includes five cultivation areas of different sizes, two precision climate zones, a multipurpose area that can be converted in situ to recycle wastewater or as a cultivation area, a technical area with germination chambers and a specialized laboratory equipment for high precision analysis, as well as wet and dry washing areas.
Some interesting features of the center include two things.
First, the integration of applied plant science, Internet of Things (IOT), data analysis and engineering. This will speed up competitive research and technology translation for start-ups. Temperature, humidity, carbon dioxide, oxygen, pH, plant nutrients and lighting can be precisely controlled and monitored anywhere with an internet connection, which is also a plus for security measures during the Covid-19 situation. The multispectral imaging capability provides a real-time quantitative description of the physiological, anatomical, biochemical and ontogenetic properties of a target plant.
Second, sustainability in urban agriculture where energy consumption data is collected for individual subsystems at the center to enable machine learning, for example, to detect energy saving opportunities and to train AI to detect early failure warnings in subsystems. The center also enables wastewater recycling, allowing water conservation for validation and translation of filtration technology.