“The majority of the European growers opt for greenhouses. It is lower CapEx, fast, and you can usually start cultivation within 1-2 years. While we would be cultivating in the beneficial Portuguese sunshine, we still decided that high-quality cannabis can only be grown in an indoor facility,” says Christian Graggaber, Founder and CEO of Bathera. The German company has spent its first three years doing a variety of cannabis-related businesses, from distribution in the German market to launching a cannabis DNA test that shows how your body reacts to cannabis. Now that they have built up an extensive network in the industry, they are ready to produce their own medical cannabis. At the moment, construction is moving quickly at their 9,000 square meters indoor facility in Portugal and will be completed in Q3 2022.
An ambitious vision
Since day one, the company’s vision has been to position itself in the high-quality medical cannabis market, Graggaber explains. “We always wanted to run a plant-touching business, even though this might make things more complicated from a regulatory perspective. But then the next question is: where should we do it? We wanted to remain in the European Union, where there were several countries of interest to us. For example, Denmark was one of the options, but the labor prices and CapEx are extremely high there, and the local market is very small. In the end, we concluded that Portugal would be our best option.”
Choosing the type of cultivation was the next challenging question. “Because of the great Portuguese weather, outdoor cultivation is, of course, possible. But greenhouse, hybrid, or indoor cultivation are also options. Our initial plan was to build a greenhouse. However, we analyzed the various options and decided that indoors is the only way for stable quality products.”
Bathera decided that the high-quality cannabis they wanted to produce could only be done in a purpose-built indoor facility. “The more we control the environment, the less we leave to chance. This realization had huge consequences on our planning, with our CapEx going from €3 million to €15 million. But we knew that this was the only way to go if we wanted to do everything properly. The whole journey took us two years, but we are currently well underway with the construction of our facility. Everything together, the site will be 9,000 square meters. We have 6,000 square meters for cultivation divided into 12 separate rooms and 3,000 square meters for supporting rooms, such as a GMP area with six drying rooms and enough space to allow hand trimming and manual packaging. Building a facility from scratch is definitely the more expensive and challenging way to go. However, it gives us a lot of freedom, and we can design it exactly the way we want to. Because of our extensive network of pharmacies, doctors, and cannabis patient consultants, we are also able to use their feedback when building our facility.”
Making the final decisions
With every facility decision made, Bathera has done extensive analyses before making any conclusions. “We spent several months on topics like climate control and light. After analyzing both HPS and LED, we came to the conclusion that LED was the better option for us. In the end, Bathera chose the Fluence VYPR R4 full spectrum lights to contribute to their high-quality production. “We looked at facilities in the US and Canada where they are producing cannabis to the standards we are aiming for. We realized that most of them were using Fluence lights.”
Bathera chose Fluence because of the proven LED technology and gained experience from cannabis operations across the globe. “We are looking forward to the collaboration with Bathera and contributing with our lighting and horticulture expertise. Germany is a very hot market, and we think Bathera has a promising business model and is set up for success serving the German cannabis market more holistically,” adds Timo Bongartz, Fluence’s General Manager for the EMEA region.