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"It all comes down to embracing the grower's philosophy"

With the experience and knowledge gained in designing nearly 500 cannabis facility projects and after a successful Nasdaq IPO up-listing, urban-gro is expanding its offerings and scope to serve all Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) growers and crop types.

What has been learned in cannabis facilities design will benefit all growers outside of North America. That’s why Reinier Donkersloot has joined the company to lead the European expansion. “I got my start in the horticulture industry with Philips,” he says. “My focus was on addressing market demands and focusing solely on indoor farming. Vertical farms have very thin profit margins. You need to be extremely cost-focused.”

Evolving together with the industry
As the US cannabis market matured, so did urban-gro's approach to facility design and optimization. “We gained tremendous experience in the early-stage North American cannabis industry,” says Lucas Targos, Vice President of Controlled Environment Agriculture with urban-gro. “We quickly learned that the whole sector needed to communicate better, especially growers, facility operators, architects and engineers. Legacy growers played a crucial role in the early stages of cannabis industry, and they have valuable knowledge of the cannabis plant that should be adopted. We have collaborated with growers and translated their knowledge into commercial scale grows that are efficient and profitable.” Bluntly put, it all comes down to embracing the grower’s philosophy. “We have learned what works and what doesn’t.”

Lucas Targos, Vice President of Controlled Environment Agriculture 

Through collaboration with cultivators across North America, the company developed Cultivation Space Programming. “By understanding your facility footprint and its interaction with the plant, growers can maximize the process flow in an indoor cultivation,” Lucas continues. “Everything is connected to increase efficiency and profit margins.”

Cannabis and technology: the perfect marriage
The continuous focus on improving efficiency and profit margins is a characteristic of the CEA space as a whole. However, the cannabis sector experienced the fastest technological advancement. “CEA technology has evolved because of cannabis,” says Bradley Nattrass, CEO of urban-gro. “Because of the high value of the cannabis crop, cannabis growers had access to capital that could be invested to make their operations as efficient and profitable as possible. That push in innovation evolved production processes to the highest quality possible.”

Bradley Nattrass, CEO of urban-gro 

From cannabis to crop-agnostic
Bradley continues to explain that, while urban-gro has been part of this evolution, they are now sharing the knowledge with new entrants into the CEA market. “The evolution in indoor facility design has allowed us to expand into a truly crop agnostic company. We are able to take our collective knowledge and show how food-focused vertical farming can be produced efficiently and economically.”

urban-gro now has more than 90 employees, of which 70% are considered technical experts—architects, engineers, and agronomists. With the acquisition of MJ12 Design Studio in July 2021, urban-gro's offering is bolstered by expert facility planning and architectural design services, making the firm the CEA industry’s first architect-led design-build company. Bradley notes, “This approach to integrated design is particularly valuable not only for new growers but enables us to better support our existing customers with turn-key solutions that support their long-term objectives.”

With the addition of urban-gro's Netherlands-based office in 2022, the company is well-positioned to serve the needs of growers throughout the EMEA region. “There are a lot of startups in vertical farming here in Europe,” shares Reinier. “And we want to leverage the knowledge we have gained working with cannabis growers in the US to optimize facilities throughout Europe.”

For more information:
[email protected]