The founding members of the Company realize that no one in the world prepares technology for the upcoming food crisis. Given the global population growth and increasing urbanization rates, there was strong rationale for developing solutions for large-scale food production in cities.
The founding members start to form ideas and business models for vertical food production within an urban environment. Listed, leading European engineering and architectural firm Sweco AB joins hands with the founders and form Swecorp AB in order to develop technologies for vertical and industrial farming. During this time, the founders also decide to implement a social and sustainable business structure for the future business called Companization, developed by Hans Hassle. The Companization Business Structure is a hybrid business structure consisting of two different organizations, a non-profit body (the “Association”) and a commercial company (the “Company”) under one ethical framework. This structure combines commercial driving forces with a value-based and sustainable vision in order to spearhead development of an institution towards transparency, democracy, social responsibility and a long-term perspective.
Plantagon International AB and Plantagon International Association are founded. Plantagon purchases the right to a concept for a vertical greenhouse from the Swedish innovator Åke Olsson. During one full year Sweco performs technical and economical feasibility studies on the concept of the Vertical Greenhouse. Plantagon files its first patent.
Plantagon brings the original concept of the globe shaped, stand-alone vertical greenhouse on the market. Plantagon is awarded the Globe Forum Innovation Idol award and attracts worldwide interest. The first 300 members of Plantagon International Association signs up. Using a filter-off strategy Plantagon travels all over the world to meet with city officials, governments and other decision makers.
Extensive research and development is ongoing in Sweden, run by Sweco and the Swedish University of Agriculture under the surveillance of Plantagon management. Most technical work is focused on how to develop smart energy solutions and how to optimize crop volume. Plantagon is selected as one out of 50 famous Swedish innovations to represent Sweden at the World Expo in Shanghai. Plantagon is offered by the Chinese city district Baoshan to build a standalone greenhouse in Shanghai. Plantagon turns down the offer. Plantagon teams up with large listed companies to expand capacity and know how, such as SAAB Technology and Tekniska Verken.
Plantagon decides to focus on three locations to build demonstration plants, partly funded by the company itself: Linköping Sweden, Singapore and Shanghai, China. During the development work four different patent families are born. Parallel with this development Plantagon starts to build political support and awareness for the need of sustainable food production in cities. The world´s first Urban Agriculture Summit is successfully organized by Plantagon jointly with the Swedish Embassy in Washington DC. Plantagon becomes the official Swedish solution for Urban Agriculture. Very much energy goes to figuring out the best way to implement the technology on the market as neither traditional growers nor real estate companies are interested. The political support from the cities is enormous, but the business logic is still not there, as expected.
Plantagon presents its final business model for Urban Industrial Vertical Farming: The integrated Façade system. The groundbreaking ceremony is held in Linköping. Plantagon gets an international breakthrough in big international media. The CEO Hans Hassle is awarded CEO of the year. The architects, engineers and business developers work tightly and intensively together to maximize the functionality of the vertical greenhouse and to find smart symbiosis that adds real estate value. Plantagon finds and accepts that nothing else than a normal “its more profitable” will get the real estate market going when it comes to feeding the city.
Plantagon is awarded several international awards. Red Herring acknowledges Plantagon as one of the 100 most innovative companies on the planet. The first licensees approach the company. Also new investors’ approaches, both for discussions on regional markets and investments on a corporate level. The second Urban Agriculture Summit is held in Linköping, Sweden. Plantagon signs an agreement for the Chinese market with China Roosevelt Investments Corporation. Tongji University and Plantagon opens a joint strategic laboratory for implementation of urban agriculture on the Chinese mainland. The Swedish King Carl XVI Gustaf gives hands out the New York Green Award to Plantagon in NYC. The planning in Linköping is delayed due to zoning challenges: Is the building an industry or an office or both..?
The Plantagon patent and brand portfolio is valued by the IP Firm Groth to be more than 15 times the investments made so far. The planning process in Linköping is further delayed, now due to esthetical reasons. Plantagon initiates a standardization process together with the Swedish Standard Institute to challenge what is needed when it comes to sustainable food production in cities. Several new projects are being vetted in China, the US and Singapore. Plantagon signs a joint-venture contract giving access to land in Singapore. Plantagon organizes the international Urban Agriculture Strategy Meeting together with the NGO ICLEI in Bonn. Also, Plantagon organizes the very first seminar on Urban Agriculture for the EU Commission in Brussels.
This becomes the toughest year so far in the Plantagon history. The planning process in Linköping is once again delayed; this time due to that consideration must be taken to the local birdlife. Financing the Singapore project takes longer time than expected, even though the local authorities and Plantagon make joint efforts to succeed. An indoor project in Shanghai meets local resistance from authorities, again due to zoning. On the positive side the patent portfolio is growing to 25 international patents, small-scale prototyping of the Plantagon cultivation system proves that Plantagon beats expectations in productivity and biomass. Also, the standardization work goes into international ISO-level. Plantagon represents Sweden on successful official business delegations.
The second Plantagon CEO is appointed; the COO since 2011 Owe Pettersson takes the office officially from May 1. The second Chairman of the Board, Sidney Hill, is appointed at the same time. The former CEO Hans Hassle and Chairman of the Board Mr. Oren Lyons take on the roles as Secretary General and Chairman of the Board of Plantagon International Association. Plantagon moves into its next phase: Agritechture.