Cooperating with a start-up

Miele enters the forward-looking field of vertical farming

Spring in the kitchen all year round with an attractive presentation of growing salads and herbs, resulting in unparalleled flavours and nutrient content – this makes the Plantcube from Agrilution a pioneer in the market. With the first smart vertical farming system, this Munich-based newcomer has shown what is possible in terms of indoor gardening. Having stepped in when the start-up became insolvent, the Miele Group is expanding its expertise in the healthy lifestyle segment.

Jan 23 2020

Focusing on innovative ideas

Today, our home lives increasingly play out in the kitchen. In the modern new builds that are currently springing up like mushrooms in major cities, open-plan kitchens are the rule rather than the exception.

To furnish open rooms stylishly, built-in appliances are needed that integrate harmoniously into the living environment and deliver perfect results both efficiently and quietly. Smart functionality is gaining in importance, too – in May 2019, Miele launched Generation 7000, a new collection of appliances that set new standards for kitchen technology.

Miele Venture Capital GmbH’s scouts had already had the hot topic of vertical farming in their sights for some time as an extension to the healthy lifestyle concept. The firm purposefully searched the start-up scene for promising young companies that would be a good fit for Miele – and that could themselves benefit significantly from a strong, reliable partner like Miele.

For Miele, it was always a fundamental requirement that the founders would remain on board and play an active role, because it’s not the company’s aim to “buy anyone out”, but rather to grow together. Miele was offered the Munich-based newcomer Agrilution and decided to step in after a planned round of financing didn’t produce the expected results and the start-up was forced to declare insolvency. 

Agrilution’s founders, Maximilian Lössl and Philipp Wagner, have remained in place as the company’s managing directors. At Miele, Agrilution is supported by Gernot Trettenbrein, who is both Division Director Domestic Appliances at the Miele Group and Managing Director of Miele Venture Capital GmbH.

“With a view to creative cooking, new taste sensations, health-conscious nutrition and urban lifestyles, Plantcubes offer consumers exciting new opportunities,” says Gernot Trettenbrein. That’s why this concept is a perfect fit for Miele. “We believe in the idea, the product and the business model – and in long-term collaboration with the two founders and their team,” continues Trettenbrein.

And seen from the other side, too, there’s a feeling that the business has found the right home with Miele. Co-founder Philipp Wagner: “Miele is a strong and reliable partner, and working together will be enormously beneficial for our business concept, in terms of both technology and marketing.”

The fully automated Plantcubes from Agrilution can be elegantly incorporated into the kitchen environment – for the enjoyment of healthy and varied dining in modern urban surroundings. © Agrilution

Agrilution puts fresh produce on the table

Futurologists use the term vertical farming to describe multilevel greenhouses designed to supply produce locally and in a space-efficient manner, and which may be used in built-up urban areas, for example. With the Plantcube from Agrilution, this revolutionary concept is also finding its way into private homes.

The fully automated growing cabinets are no larger than a standard refrigerator, offer perfect growing conditions with minimal effort – and are a design highlight in any kitchen or living room. The principle behind the design is to provide a self-contained ecosystem with easy-to-fit seed mats, regulated lighting and climate conditions as well as automatic watering.

As a result, the Plantcube virtually manages itself. Harvested produce is free from pesticides and other impurities. The system is controlled via the Agrilution Cloud, and a user-friendly app provides insights into the growing process and gives advice on maintenance and harvesting. 

“An increasing number of people live in urban areas, while at the same time striving to make conscious life choices and enjoy individual freedoms,” says Maximilian Lössl, who founded Agrilution in partnership with Philipp Wagner. “And our Plantcube delivers fresher salad leaves, herbs and microgreens straight to the kitchen.”

Microgreens are seedlings that can be harvested after just a few days and are therefore especially flavourful and rich in nutrients. Agrilution currently offers a range of 25 different salad leaves, herbs and microgreens, including unusual varieties, such as red pak choi or mustard wasabina leaves.

The first crop can be harvested between one and three weeks after activating a Plantcube; afterwards harvesting can even take place daily. Only approved, genetically unmodified seedlings are used. The food-safe seed mats – produced in house by Agrilution in Munich – are entirely composed of upcycled textile waste.

Once a seed mat has been added, it only needs watering every couple of weeks – everything else is fully automated. While the process of growing a single head of lettuce in a field uses up to 120 litres of water, the same volume is enough to supply an entire Plantcube for a whole year. 

The food-safe seed mats are entirely composed of upcycled textile waste. Once a seed mat has been added, it only needs watering every couple of weeks – everything else is fully automated. © Agrilution/Stefan Randlkofer

Pioneers in the healthy living segment

Miele not only stands for creative cooking and stylish dining, but also for healthy eating and sustainability. With these objectives in mind, the company’s focus extends beyond the two “core functions” of cooking and washing dishes to cover the entire cooking cycle, from recipe ideas to its gourmet delivery service MChef, offering top-level gastronomy to enjoy at home.

The concept from Agrilution combines the cutting-edge technology of vertical farming with a compact and elegant solution for home use. Its main target group is discerning consumers in built-up metropolitan areas, who would like to enjoy healthy food and make conscious life choices. 

Write the first comment