By Mack Male
Nafaa Haddou, co-founder and CEO of Nu Terra Labs, sees great opportunity for vertical farming to contribute to a more sustainable food system.
Haddou and his brother Ismail stumbled into the sector several years ago when a side project building a monitoring system for hydroponics spiralled into learning more about green walls and vertical farming.
"The more we worked on it, the more we realized there's an opportunity to start making a change and addressing the issues of the circular food economy," Haddou told Taproot.
In 2021, the pair decided to launch a startup to explore the opportunity further. Their research indicated that once the growing process begins, there's a lot of human input involved in monitoring and adjusting the growing conditions. That's the specific problem Nu Terra Labs is focused on solving.
"We sell an end-to-end monitoring system," Haddou said. The company is at the MVP stage for its integrated control systems for monitoring and adjusting lighting, temperature, humidity, and more. The systems are designed to be plug-and-play and are hardware-agnostic, Haddou said.
"Our ideal customers are vertical farm producers and infrastructure suppliers," Haddou said.
Haddou said he has several letters of intent in place with potential clients, including one with Edmonton-based Botanical Pantry, a developer of net-zero indoor vertical farms that launched its first facility in St. Albert. California-based Rotary Garden North America is another.
Earlier this month, Nu Terra Labs was among the eight early-stage companies from Alberta selected for the inaugural THRIVE Academy agrifood pre-accelerator program.