Get to know Raiz - Techstars Sustainability Paris Accelerator

Jun 10, 2024

Emiliano Gutiérrez: CEO | Inês Barros: CPO | Lucía Salas de la Pisa: CMO | Simon Szalai: CTO | Yannick Keyssner: Lead Engineer

Raiz is creating local food ecosystems through a network of climate positive farms.

1.   Describe the problem/the industry that you are trying to mediate (and precise the UN SDG-s you are solving).

Raiz addresses key challenges of our times. Water & arable land scarcity, long food supply chains, and a growing population that will require more infrastructure, energy and food.

Food security is threatened by climate change which disrupts traditional farming, while monoculture and intensive agriculture harm people and the environment, causing nutrient runoff, carbon emissions, and soil depletion. Raiz Vertical Farms enables food growth year-round, regardless of weather, ensuring a steady supply of fresh produce. This approach reduces reliance on long supply chains, removing pesticide use, cutting food miles and carbon footprint.

High energy costs challenge the vertical farming industry. Tackling that head on, Raiz uses a hybrid energy model with renewable energy, natural and supplementary lights, plus software to dynamically control LEDs, making operations more sustainable and economically viable. Future farms will be powered by micro-grids and leverage agrivoltaics to further optimize energy consumption. Raiz promotes awareness and community life in the city by transforming underused urban spaces into productive farms through innovative biodesign, fostering community engagement and collaboration while bringing more green into the cities.

Our initiatives align closely with the following United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): End hunger, achieve food security and promote sustainable agriculture (SDG2), Promoting good health and wellbeing (SDG3), and Fostering sustainable cities and communities (SDG11).

2.   How did the idea to create the company come to mind? How did your team come to be?

It all started back when Emiliano visited a rooftop farm in the Bronx, NYC and saw how farming was being used to produce food in the middle of the city. This planted the seeds of a vision to grow food leveraging technology, even for communities in need.

Simon came into the picture in an innovation program in Berkeley, where they connected around tech, impact & AI, and developed the idea of merging vertical farming and renewable energy.

The team came to be together naturally, Lucía coming onboard at an incubation program, inspired by growing something with purpose. Inês came in through mutual connections to channel a common passion in biodesign into building new farms that regenerate our cities.

Born out of Covid lockdowns, Raiz was incorporated in late 2021 and became the result of a collective of young entrepreneurs set on changing the urban food system for the better. In 2022 Raiz launched the first farm and the team consolidated in Lisbon, the rest is history.

3.   Why did you choose to participate in the Paris Techstars accelerator program? What are you looking forward to the most?

We chose to join this program as we believe it to be a catalyst that will propel Raiz to new heights, enabling us to refine our business model & technology, scale our operations, and expand our reach.

Furthermore it is a great opportunity for us to learn from mentors, get valuable connections and meet potential investors & clients. Participating in this sustainability focused program grants us access to a network solely focused on our domain of action, generating synergies that can help us scale up faster.

Ultimately, our participation in the Techstars accelerator is about inspiring a new wave of vertical farming, demonstrating that it is possible to produce healthy, locally-sourced food in a way that benefits people and the planet.

4.   What are you the most proud of in your initial journey with your company?

We’re most proud of launching a successful farm, getting positive validation from the market and crafting a unique solution to feed communities and regenerate our cities.

5.   How do you plan to measure the positive impact of your company in the next 5 years?

We plan to measure Raiz’ positive impact with key metrics surrounding climate resilient cities, food independency and year-round produce: 

  • # of vertical farms launched

  • KGs of food grown

  • Water saved from alternative growing methods

  • Co2 emissions avoided from long supply chains

These metrics will provide a comprehensive view of our environmental impact, ensuring Raiz continues to drive positive change in the food system. Our vision is to have thousands of farms that nourish communities worldwide.

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