As people in Europe are increasingly more committed to sustainability and organic farming, many start considering growing their own vegetables. However, they often lack time, knowledge and understanding of their plants behaviour.
Lifely and Proventus, two startups from Italy and Slovenia, saw a market opportunity in this need and joined forces under the EU project TETRAMAX.
After meeting during an Erasmus Young Entrepreneurs exchange programme, the two companies decided to further collaborate and bring together what they do best: Lifely develops open source wireless sensors for plants, while Proventus created the mobile gardening assistant Tomappo, which helps people to design their garden, treat their plants, and harvest the crops.
By joining forces, they have integrated Lifely’s sensors in the Tomappo application, improving a product that can now offer to its users real-time data of their plants and tailored-made tips on how to take care of their garden.
The sensors monitor soil moisture, lighting and temperature. They feed this information to the mobile application, where the gardener can see it, together with tips from soil preparation and garden planning to the care of the plants and cooking.
The collaboration of the two startups is the result of an EU-funded experiment (Carrots: Cooperative ARchitecture for gaRdening with Open moniToring Systemswithin) within the TETRAMAX project. They received €35.7K to work together on this new solution for 10 months since June 2018. The Digital Innovation Hub Jožef Stefan Institute, in Slovenia, as one of the partners of the TETRAMAX project, provided the companies with assistance.
“With this project, we found in Tomappo the perfect enabler for our sensors, realising the correct connection between humans and plants. We raised a lot of interest, we were able to attract more funding, we hired 5 new talents, and we will go to market in 2019.” – Lifely
“The sensors improved our product, enabling more accurate and timely notifications to our users. We also have a new, physical product to sell (the sensors), which opens up new markets. With these results, we expect to create at least one new job (a lot for a small startup) and a 10-fold increase in revenues from the subscription to our Tomappo application.” - Proventus
The EU-funded project has had a very good impact in the business prospects of both companies, opening new markets, leading to new jobs created and increasing sales prospects. In addition, the developed application TOMAPPO can bring the benefits of gardening to a broader range of European citizens who not necessarily have previous knowledge of gardening. The developed solution can also contribute to a more sustainable agriculture with zero-Km food that better respects the environment.