Dutch organization, HortiHeroes, have built a reputation as an innovative community platform for the country’s food and flower industry. They are committed to ensuring that talented individuals and ambitious companies develop the solutions the agricultural sector needs. They do this by nurturing innovators who work on future-proofing the sector and the world while, at the same time, growing their companies.
HortiHeroes partners with startup and scale-up founders, among others, to help develop new technologies and revenue models and connect them to industry leaders through their innovation ecosystem.
Since the start of this year, Ot Messemaker, Skytree’s Proposition Manager, has developed a partnership with HortiHeroes to showcase Skytree’s role within their Startup program.
In this Q&A, Ot breaks down what has happened over the last six months, and how Skytree and HortiHeroes are working together to revolutionize the agricultural sector using Decentralized Direct Air Capture (D-DAC).
Ot, congratulations on the partnership with HortiHeroes. Can you share a little bit about HortiHeroes as a company?
The greenhouse sector can fly a little bit under the radar if you aren’t in the sector, you might not understand how innovative and technology-driven it actually is. HortiHeroes’ goal is to spotlight new innovations and key market players in the agriculture and greenhouse sectors and to open up the market to start-ups and scale-ups.
HortiHeroes is bringing a much-needed modern twist to a more traditional market by providing a platform for new and emerging product and technology companies across the agricultural sector.to engage with one another. They do this through elevator pitches, networking events, conferences, and presentations that serve to kickstart conversations with customers and eventually build a pipeline for emerging greenhouse technologies to reach the market.
Sounds like an exciting opportunity for Skytree to connect with the industry leaders. So how and when did you start working with HortiHeroes?
While we have known of HortiHeroes for some time now (who hasn't?), we connected with them at the start of 2023. We successfully pitched Skytree as a potential partner in their Startup program and, since then, we have been working closely together, leveraging their network to find right potential customers for our D-DAC technology.”
Tell us more about these activities, what have you been working on together?
We have been introduced to 5 key partners who are immersed in the sector and from whom can learn a great deal. As HortiHeroes are based in the World Horti Center, the knowledge and innovation center for international greenhouse horticulture, we have also been able to learn a lot about the greenhouse sector, more generally.
What has been the highlight of the partnership so far?
HortiHeroes hosted a Startup & Scale-up Dinner in the World Horti Center on April 13th which was attended by over 85 leading startups and scale-ups in the horti/agri tech industry. That was a definite highlight for us. Our pre-recorded elevator pitch was played on a large screen during the dinner giving us the opportunity to explain what we do, how we do it, and connect with potential customers.”
In addition, their “Let's Connect” networking events have provided several exciting moments to meet industry members through roundtable conversations. This has given us a chance to \dive deeply into our technological capability and its sector-wide impact, while also fielding more fundamental questions.
In your view, how does the collaboration with Skytree benefit HortiHeroes?
HortiHeroes brings innovations and solutions in sustainability to the agriculture sector. Agriculture and indoor farming are leading sectors in the Netherlands. Day, farmers rely on CO2 as feedstock to grow and ensure their businesses are profitable. But there is not always a secure supply of CO2, and the price is volatile. This makes it hard for growers to forecast their expenses and run a sustainable business.
Through this partnership, HortiHeroes is helping us introduce farmers to our modular D-DAC units so they may access a more sustainable source of CO2. not only helping our D-DAC technology become more visible, but they are solving a problem for the sector.
HortiHeroes is connecting startups, like Skytree, to the customers and industry members that can benefit most from our technology, giving them the confidence to know that it is verified by their vetting process, saving them time in researching and finding new products themselves.
As Fabienne van der Klugt, Community & Startup Lead at HortiHeroes puts it, "the Food & Flower industry is facing a complex challenge regarding CO2 emissions- we have to reduce the use of natural gas. On the other hand, CO2 is required for the growing of crops. Skytree’s technology to capture CO2 and recycle it onsite is one of the solutions we believe in. By offering market access and visibility to the industry, we hope to accelerate development and collaborate around the production of fresh food and flowers with the goal of achieving zero emissions. Skytree’s team is ambitious and open to share their experiences in their entrepreneurial ride, which is also an added value for peer startups in the HortiHeroes community."
Looking ahead, how do you think the greenhouse industry can benefit from D-DAC technology? What is the global potential?
Our goal is to revolutionize the global fossil fuel-based CO2 supply with more sustainable and circular CO2 generated onsite. For growers - especially in the Netherlands - CO2 is essential as it can increase crop yield by up to 30%. At the moment, burning gas is the main source of CO2 for greenhouses. greener alternative will shortly be a must. Skytree’s D-DAC technology really has bright future in the sector.
Turning gas is not sustainable and is more expensive, with great fluctuations in price offer a solution to capture and release atmospheric CO2 onsite, giving greenhouse operators a clean source of CO2 to maximize crop production. Our technology captures CO2 from ambient air, concentrates it, and makes it readily available for use in greenhouses. rowers have full onsite access to carbon dioxide, without any hassle. Skytree’s D-DAC technology has the potential to be transformative for the greenhouse sector not only in the Netherlands but worldwide.
In many countries, it’s still not possible to get CO2 into greenhouses because the gas pipeline infrastructure simply doesn’t exist. In those countries, we can enable increased food production for greenhouses by delivering a secure supply of CO2 onsite. Our units are designed to capture and create up to 200 kilograms of CO2 per day, with the option to increase production by stacking multiple units on top of each other. Our fully stackable units can be scaled to meet custom CO2 requirements, making them the perfect solution to meet the high demands of greenhouse growing.
In addition to reducing carbon emissions from fossil fuel combustion, food security is also an increasingly important issue. In the Netherlands alone, the sector emits about 6 million tons of carbon dioxide per year from burning gas onsite. We can hopefully reduce those emissions significantly with our modular D-DAC technology.”
At Skytree, we’re incredibly proud to partner with HortiHeroes and grateful for the opportunities we have experienced with them to date. s a growing company, we’re always on the lookout for potential newpartners.
If you’re interested to know more about working with Skytree don't hesitate to get in touch!