#Innovation …I often think its an overused or sometimes misunderstood word, but then again I’m a visual learner. I need an example of something to truly get its meaning so I can picture it…and so here is one…and I’m proud to say that it came about as a result of discussions between three members of #EMN…

Gary Thompson of Jagdesign (4M) Ltd has been a member of EMN for many years and a great advocate for working with others in the network – doing what engineers do and finding solutions to problems.

Several years ago, following a visit to a warehouse, Gary realised that the space could be used for growing. The idea was discussed at length with Ian Pilkington, another EMN member and also integral to Food and Drink North East and Ian then introduced Jag to Jay Croslegh from Myco Foods who then tasked Gary to turn his idea into a product they could use.

Fast forward 2 years and after working closely with Myco and Mark Hardy from Hartech Automation Limited (EMN again 😁), the Vertical Farm system was created and is now fully operational and being used in anger by Myco Holdings based in Leeming Bar to create a plant-based protein from oyster mushroom stems that can be used in a range of meat alternative products.

The IBC created by Gary runs on 24 volts from a sustainable energy source and the internals are fitted to support growing tubes. Each tube is primed with the correct media developed by Myco and has the mycelium spores embedded within it and the mushrooms grow on 14-21-day cycles producing up to 100kg of protein every seven weeks. This equates to a saving of approx. 13.25 kg of CO2 compared to 100kg beef production.

The interior of the IBC is fitted with low-voltage lighting, and the growing environment is monitored by a specially designed AI unit to monitor and regulate temperature, humidity, CO2 levels, lighting, etc. developed by Hartech Automation -another member of EMN.

The waste media following the growth cycle is also used to generate energy, charging a battery bank, which can then be used to power the systems.

Now that is true innovation, and this is why I love working with engineers!

“Although two years in the making, the end product just shows how collaboration between EMN members can bring innovative outcomes” Gary Thompson – Jag Design (4M)

And so…. EMN already delivers an “ASK the Network” service… but we’re taking it a step further thanks to Gary, Mark and Ian. EMN will be hosting some innovation challenges and tasking our members to find solutions – so if you have a problem or engineering challenge that you would like the EMN community to apply their collective knowledge to…message me….

And while you’re doing that, have a listen to this 10 minute interview from Radio Tees about the development of the vertical farm! It’s fascinating and so INNOVATIVE!