Our story & team
Maarten Vandecruys and Frederic Bulcaen founded “Urban Crop” to find a solution to one burning question: “How will we feed the world with the mounting pressure of climate change and with a wasteful global food supply chain?” As a student at Vlerick Business School, he started by exploring rooftop farming together with his mentor, Frederic Bulcaen. After researching several options on how to bring crop production closer to local communities, only one viable growing system remained: Indoor Vertical Farming.
After the Proof-Of-Concept was a success, Maarten and Frederic officially founded Urban Crop Solutions in Waregem (Belgium) in 2014. In the first five years, the company installed a first Plant Factory and over 25 Container Farms throughout Europe and North-America. By 2019, both the indoor plant biology and the factory technology had shown its value, and the company was ready for the next commercial growth phase.
During Urban Crop’s first capital increase, Tom Debusschere was welcomed as co-Investor and new CEO to support the team to “grow at the crossroads of indoor plant biology and factory engineering.”
Recently, a first container farm was sold to Singapore, expanding the company to a truly global footprint.
We have been worked tirelessly to find a sensible solution to the open issues indoor farming still faces, of which the most important one is the high total unit cost. Based on the experiences of the customers of our FarmPro and FarmFlex, we have designed a 2nd generation Plant Factory from the ground up. And we’ve come up with a concept that ‘just makes sense’: the ModuleX Plant Factory. We hope you will value our contribution to this exciting new industry.
In September 2017, our founder Maarten Vandecruys was invited to speak at TEDx to highlight the impact indoor vertical farming can have on our planet :
Indoor Vertical Farms contribute substantially to 8 of the 17 UN Sustainable Development goals
The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are 17 objectives that were established by the United Nations in 2015 to allow people to live on a more sustainable Planet by 2030. Indoor Vertical Farms (IVF) contribute substantially to 8 of these 17 goals.
Indoor Vertical Farms offer hyper-local farming jobs to the inner cities and communities across the globe. They provide decent work and economic growth in desert regions with no rainfall, or regions with limited sunshine.
IVF creates food security through sustainable agriculture. It produces nutrient-rich, fresh, healthy crops, making them accessible and affordable year-round for many people, also in harsh climates.
IVF recycles all water transpired by the crops during their photosynthesis process. The water is then sanitized, infused with the right nutrients, and given back to the crops. This reduces water use by 95% versus traditional open-air or greenhouse farming.
The traditional food supply chains are long, up to 4000 km. The crops have many touchpoints on the field, in cooled warehouses, in multi-day airconditioned transportation, and create up to 40% waste from field to fork. Hyper-local Indoor Vertical Farms reduce the distance, time and waste to almost zero.
IVF uses 90% less land than traditional agriculture and produces 20-30 times more food in the same space. IVF eliminates fertilizer run-off and land degradation, protecting all terrestrial ecosystems.
Public launch of the ModuleX concept:
The modular PlantFactory
Urban Crop Solutions and BAF signed a representation agreement for the East and South-East Asian markets
Launch of SpaceBakery project. Research starts in 2020 for two and a half years to explore the sustainable production of food and provide solutions to manufacturing food on Mars in the future.
Urban Crop Solutions joins EIT food, a Knowledge and Innovation Community (KIC) established by the European Institute for Innovation & Technology (EIT), an independent EU body set up in 2008 to drive innovation and entrepreneurship across Europe.
Tom Debusschere strengthens Urban Crop Solutions as CEO.
IKEA uses Urban Crop technology for its local lettuce production
Our founder Maarten Vandecruys presents our technology to Belgian King Filip I, French President Macron, Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel (current European President) and Flemish Prime Minister Geert Bourgois.
Indoor Plant Biology milestone: over 200 cultivars tested
Urban Crop Solutions to receive an award at the European FoodNexus Challenge
Collaboration with Ahold Delhaize (Albert Heijn) and Bakker Barendrecht
TEDx talk by our Founder, Maarten Vandecruys, on the impact of indoor vertical farming
Establishment of a permanent presence in the Japanese market
Official opening regional Headquarter North America (Miami)
Urban Crop Solutions showcasing their technology at the GreenTech trade show in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
Urban Crop Solutions wins the Gault&Millau Culinary Innovators Award
Opening largest automated R&D PlantFactory in Europe at Urban Crop Solutions in Beveren-Leie (Belgium) by Geert Bourgeois, the Minister-President of Flanders.
Showcasing our indoor vertical farming technology at the IPM show in Dubai, U.A.E.
Initial biological results show a breakthrough in the yields of our crops. Analyses by external labs show an increase of minerals and vitamins in the crops grown in our systems.
Urban Crop Solutions is officially founded in Waregem, Belgium. Start of biological research in the test lab.