element14 announced the launch of its latest design competition – the Vertical Farming Challenge. Sponsored by Silicon Labs and Wuerth Elektronik, with support from the Vertical Farming Association and Green Spirit Farms, element14 will select 15 engineers to build indoor vertical gardens using technologies and methods that have the potential to change how food is produced around the world.
“The Vertical Farming challenge is one of our most unique design competitions to date,” said Dianne Kibbey, Global Head of Community, element14. “The vertical farming industry presents a real opportunity to address growing concerns surrounding overpopulation, environmental changes and food production. The engineer can play a critical role in developing solutions to those concerns, and we’re proud to empower 15 finalists with the technologies and resources they need to find those solutions.”
The challenge comes on the heels of element14’s Engineering a Connected World report which found, among other things, that consumers globally view agriculture/food production as one of the primary areas where technology and innovation should be focused.
element14 will accept applications for the Vertical Farming Challenge from now until July 3, and finalists will be chosen based on the solutions proposed. Entries should include solutions for: environmental monitoring (light, temperature and humidity), water and feeding systems, a growing surface that expands beyond the overall footprint of the build and energy monitoring to collect data on the system’s overall consumption of power and water.
Finalists will be announced on July 14 and the chosen competitors will have until October 19 to create their indoor vertical farms. element14 will provide each participant with a kit of IoT-enabled technologies to help with the designs, and Green Spirit Farms and the Vertical Farming Association will guide challengers though the growing and harvesting process.
“We’re honored to be advising the individuals that will take part in the Vertical Farming Challenge,” said Milan Kluko, Founder and President at Green Spirit Farms. ”Electronic engineers are uniquely positioned to create innovative technology and new systems that can make all indoor growing systems more efficient and sustainable in urban areas where access to fresh food can be limited. Green Spirit Farms will guide element14’s challengers through the growing and harvesting process so every participant’s ‘indoor farm’ has the chance to maximize their respective crop yield using their innovative approaches to Controlled Environment Agriculture.”
Throughout the competition finalists will receive recommendations on moisture, lighting and humidity ranges to be aware of when planting the crops and the optimal time to transfer and harvest those crops. Along with the resulting crops, entries will be judged on originality, innovation, technical merit and data points collected. The winner will be announced on November 3. Each of the 15 competitors will provide weekly updates on their progress through blog posts, photos and videos via the element14 Community.
The Vertical Farming Challenge is the latest competition as part of a broader Engineering a Connected World initiative from the element14 Community. The program, of which the report is a part, is designed to drive innovation by connecting engineers to powerful new ideas, the latest technologies and to each other, and to make the ordinary, extraordinary.