Recently, THRIVE II Canada Accelerator announced their latest cohort, which included six Calgary-based companies.
Thrive’s award-winning program accelerates sustainability, innovation, and technology across the industry. Companies were selected for their potential to disrupt traditional farming practices, promote industry sustainability, and reduce environmental impact while giving farmers the tools to increase yields and productivity.
Among them is Agriplay Ventures, a vertical farm technology company dedicated to innovating systemic food insecurity by transforming legacy and under-utilized commercial infrastructure into intelligent indoor farms and sustainable green building systems.
“Supply chains can be weak, but a pepper plant is strong enough to hold the promise of food security for an entire community,” Agriplay says, adding that they “cooperate with local growers to ensure that we don’t all grow the same products.”
Technology-wise, Agriplay leverages machine learning and artificial intelligence—the “workhorses of a truly smart farm,” according to the Alberta company.
“[ML and AI] underpin a system that continually analyzes data and adjusts operations for maximum efficiency,” Agriplay explains.
The startup claims to have designed its growing system “to capture maximum data, knowing that it can be used to improve operational efficiency and the quality of vegetables.”
Beyond the high-tech stuff, Agriplay innovates in a more brick-and-mortar sense as well. For example, the system doesn’t require a purpose-built facility or an industrial building—sometimes “you don’t even need an electrician.”
This space-efficiency and economic resourcefulness is part of the company’s layered approach to lowering barriers to farming while boosting sustainability.
“Our modular, scalable, and sustainable system grows more than 150 crops … with low capital costs and power inputs, using existing commercial spaces,” the startup states online.
The product developed is a “plug-and-play, scalable installation that can be set up in commercial properties like offices or storefronts,” Agriplay says. “You can get up and growing quickly and with relatively little capital investment.”
The company was founded by locals Dan Houston and Adam Morand in 2021.
Houston is a Calgry-born futurist and technology enthusiast with extensive experience in commercial real estate and AI, while Morand considers himself an “entrepreneurial technologist” whose lifetime goal its seeing “economically viable technologies creating a global abundance of food, energy, clothing, shelter, clean air and fresh water. “
“Really looking forward to working with the SVG Ventures | THRIVE team and some great agritech companies,” Houston stated recently.
Morand founded software firm Illuminated Technologies in 2001, then “retired” in 2006 to farm, before moving to Alberta in 2009 and ultimately establishing cyber physical firm A4 Systems Corp—today a critical partner to Agriplay—in 2015.
Agriplay’s first salient installation is in an iconic local landmark: Calgary Tower.
“This is a fantastic milestone and a great partner for not only our showcase facility but also upcoming facilities,” Houston stated last year.
The company is currently working to convert four million square feet of real estate across Alberta into productive indoor farms and has also recently signed agreements for projects in BC.