Vertical greening with the ability to absorb water from heavy rainfall
An interest in flora and fauna has taken Rosario Garcia Gil from Spain, to Finland, and subsequently to Umeå, where she works as a researcher in forest genetics. Over the course of 2021, her work and unique solution for vertical greening has garnered critical acclaim and awards. “As a researcher it provides a fantastic opportunity to participate and contribute to social development,” says Rosario.
It has been just over twenty years since Rosario Garcia Gil, a researcher at SLU in Umeå, defended her doctoral thesis at the university in Valencia. Opting to pursue research was naturally a no-brainer, propelling her to the forefront of her research field. Rosario chose to go in the direction of forest genetics as part of a research group in Oulu in Finland, one of the foremost in its field. Four years later she moved to Sweden and took up a research position in forest genetics at SLU in Umeå. Trees and plants are her main focus, in addition to which she harbours a keen interest in microbiology.
“My father and all my family are my inspiration. My dad for his keen interest in animals and plants, which I share, and owing to my being related to many entrepreneurs and business owners, it was obvious that I had to take my research further and contribute to social development,” says Rosario.
Increased sustainability with new watering system
The vertical farming solution developed by Rosario differs from others within the field. The watering system is different. It is adaptable and able to provide each individual plant with the right amount of water. This is a feature that makes it easier to plant lots of different plant varieties together - something that helps to make farming more varied, greener and more beautiful, as well as more sustainable.
The water system is simple and smart, and operates on the osmosis principle. In short, this means that the irrigation system only releases water to the plants when they need it. The solution also facilitates management and the vertical farm’s ability to absorb water following downpours and torrential rain.
Focus on new thinking
“Our vertical farming installations can be attached to walls and buildings, both inside and outside. But my focus is on new ways of thinking. I want to create new partnerships, and work with architects to ensure that vertical farming is incorporated into planning right from the start when new cities and societies are being built”, says Rosario.
This work is already underway. Several months ago Rosario founded the company Vertisà and, in conjunction with SLU and Uminova, among others, work to grow the business and develop the company’s offering is ongoing.
“To have the opportunity to work in Uminova’s incubator and show that our idea works means a lot, as does having access to experienced business coaches. We have validated the technology, begun collaborations with large property owners, and can now begin to step up our contact with investors who believe in our technology and offering. The partnership with SLU Holding is a vital piece of the puzzle in our development”, says Rosario.
Partnering with SLU Holding reaffirms potential
“With the validation funding (VFT funds) we received from SLU Holding we have been able to develop prototypes and test our technology. Having an ongoing dialogue with SLU Holding is really valuable. Knowing that they believe in us confirms the potential we see in our work. SLU Holding has also been a vital form of support in meetings and conversations with new customers. In short, our collaboration shows they trust me and believe in our ideas. That means a lot”, says Rosario.
Being able to use research for the good of society is a real source of motivation for Rosario.
The drive to take her research further
“We researchers sometimes forget that our research can be used in a practical sense to bring about further good in society. We are theoreticians who want to take our findings to the next level, and when we see that happen, naturally it makes us happy. Coming up with practical applications for one’s research isn’t for everyone, but more and more people are seeing the opportunity to give back to society. I want to make a contribution to society. I want to see cities develop. I’m also an entrepreneur - I have that in me. Being able to use my research for greater good is a significant motivating factor for me in my work”, Rosario explains.
In answer to the question as to how the work will evolve in the next five years, Rosario hopes and believes that a lot is going to happen, despite being fully aware that helping a company move forward can have its ups and downs. It’s all about believing in your idea.
“In five years, I hope Vertisà is running smoothly. We want to make a contribution in the Nordics and help to build our future cities. By then I hope we will have a number of investors on board and will have developed our operations in Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland,” says Rosario Garcia Gil, who is a researcher at SLU in Umeå and the CEO of Vertisà.