GardenSharing startup developed by Lobachevsky University student
Sergei Mazzherov, a student of the UNN Faculty of Radiophysics, together with a team of graduates from Higher School of Economics and Alekseev State Technical University of Nizhny Novgorod, has launched a technology startup GardenSharing, which is an innovative solution for year-round cultivation of crops regardless of climate.
The project concept is based on the synergy of information technologies and innovative trends in the agricultural industry. The main product of the startup project is a modular agricultural complex with artificial microclimate and remote control.
"This idea occurred to us spontaneously. Once, trying to find fresh strawberries in winter in our city, I was faced with their absence in shop shelves. At that time I was in my fifth year at Lobachevsky University and was getting to know quite a bit about network design and circuitry. My friends, students from other universities, had previously told me about how berries are grown in other countries. The puzzle came together - and we decided to create something truly new and home-grown, solving the problem of agricultural shortages forever - at any time of the year. The subjects I studied only helped me to plunge headfirst into the world of advanced technologies," shared Sergei Mazzherov, a student of Lobachevsky University.
According to him, the modular agro-industrial complex based on soil-free aeroponics technology allows growing natural berries, vegetables and fruits year-round and regardless of climatic conditions without human control. The yield of such a complex is much higher than in traditional greenhouses because the growth process is controlled by dozens of autonomous systems based on proprietary software and engineering solutions.
In addition to the core technology, Nizhny Novgorod students are developing the concept of a mobile application called GardenSharing, which allows any user to sign up for a subscription of the same name and gain access to managing a section of one of the modular agro-industrial complexes. The app's authors compare it to playing a game of virtual farm, except that in this case the farm is real, and the crops that the user chooses and grows are not fictional at all and are delivered directly to the user's home as soon as they are harvested.
The GardenSharing project of Nizhny Novgorod students became the winner of the Student Startup grant programme. The grant was used to purchase the necessary equipment for research and development work in the field of software and engineering solutions for modules. Currently, the team takes part in the reality show "My Startup" about young entrepreneurs. The reality show is broadcast weekly on the TV channels Rossiya 1, Rossiya 24 and Nizhny Novgorod 24. The project was also included in Rosselkhozbank's business accelerator.
Sergei and his team plan to launch the MVP (minimum viable product) in the second quarter of 2024, and by the end of the summer they plan to harvest the first crop. In parallel with development work, the project team plans to actively participate in grant competitions of the Innovation Promotion Fund and the Russian Ministry of Agriculture, and is also preparing to obtain a patent for the technology being developed.
"Many food supply-related companies are already interested in our project, and some technology projects are offering us their solutions for scaling. The design concept that we are testing right now has met all expectations. It also became the basis of my thesis - in particular, it is about the remote control systems I developed for module operation. Special thanks to the course “Basics of Digital Telecommunication Networks”, which I took in my final year of study. In many ways, it gave me an understanding of how the project can be implemented in terms of technology," added Sergei Mazzherov.