Bios - Low Carbon Technology & Bio-Circular Food
Bios develops technologies that use waste energy, carbon, grow plants and produce data that will help buildings reach zero carbon emissions
Lead Applicant Organization Name
Lead Applicant Organization Type
If part of a multi-stakeholder entity (i.e. team), provide the names of other organizations and types of stakeholders collaborating with you.
Bios is currently in start-up with a team employed directly by the project and has developed partnerships with multiple stakeholders to support the research and development of our technology, while piloting with future clients. Our partners are Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Instituto Superior Tecnico, Maze-X, MIT Portugal, Nova School of Business & Economics, EIT Food & Jose de Mello Saude
Website of Legally Registered Entity
How long have you / your team been working on this Vision?
Lead Applicant: In what city or town are you located?
Lead Applicant: In what country are you located?
Your Selected Place: what’s the name of the Place you’re developing a Vision for?
Metropolitan Area of Lisbon, the capital of Portugal, covers a total area of 3,015.24km2
What country is your selected Place located in?
Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.
As an Australian Michael’s story is a little bit different to Bios’s other founders Paulo and Antonio, who are both Portuguese. Leaving Australia in 2014 he was completing a Masters and Bachelor and seeking avenues to have impact through working in the food system in Europe. After 3 years of research, applications and interviews it was clear going back into corporate career was not the path for his skills. This is where Portugal have become so important for why Bios is based in Lisbon now, because he was accepted into MIT Portugal at Instituto Superior Técnico for a PhD in Sustainable Energy Systems. Here he met with Antonio Santos in the same program and then met Paulo Pereira researching the local food system.
Portugal is a country that is engaged and committed to global sustainability and the well-being of its population. Measures to encourage local organic production, such as the increase in import taxes for organic products and their inclusion in school meals as well as investment in training and specialization in organic farming are recurrent actions and have been constantly adopted by the government.
The number of local consumers of biological and organic products is increasing rapidly, which creates a real and urgent need for the market to be prepared to meet this new demand.
Another important result of Portugal's commitment to sustainability is the nomination of Lisbon, the country's capital and the selected place for our project, as the European Green Capital 2020. Lisbon has a clear position in the fight against climate change and is investing in a robust agenda for sustainability with concrete programs and actions for the next decade.
It became clear there was an authentic interest in supporting proactive and innovative solutions development. This is evidenced by the level of institutional support, networks and connections which have allowed Bios to advance to this stage in 3 short years.
Describe the People and Place: Provide information that would be helpful for an outsider who has never been there and may have no context about this Place to better understand the area.
Portugal is one of the original global villages known to the world really opening up the Atlantic to Europe during the 15th century, becoming a new port for trade in food, spices, herbs and previous materials. This era has left Lisbon with some wonderful history and openness to people from other countries, creating the foundation of a large multi-cultural population. The natural disasters that followed led to a unique combination of architecture, cultures and resilience to work with the resources.
Fast forwarding to the 20th century, Portugal became a neutral state which had to emerge from what was seen as an agricultural country with its major exports being food. Following the Carnation Revolution and the end of the dictatorship, the people built the democratic foundations necessary to join the European Union. The major contribution to the EU markets was through the food produced.
Portugal is a country that has the oldest borders in Europe, with an exceptional range of different landscapes and a unique cultural heritage, where tradition and modernity blend together in perfect harmony. Portugal’s cuisine is as rich and varied as its landscape. Due to its climate, which is the warmest in Europe, and its fertile Atlantic landscapes, its land produces a wide variety of vegetables, herbs, fruits and other products, all year round.
The classic Portuguese cuisine style is based on the freshness and availability of raw materials, slow cooking, traditional preparation and the strong influence of its former colonies. The most distinctive feature of Portuguese cuisine comes from the sea. They say in Portugal that there are 1001 ways to cook cod fish, and the truth is that cod fish is the pearl of Portuguese cuisine.
One of the greatest traditions of Portuguese cuisine, however, is the baked or grilled sardine. This was a tradition of many Portuguese rural families between the 19th and 20th centuries and brought countless health benefits to these individuals. With the power to improve cholesterol levels, reduce high blood pressure and minimize the risk of cardiovascular accidents, sardines are now included in the daily menu. Portuguese people believe that sardine is the fish that represents the best of Portugal: the joy, the popular festivals, the pilgrimages. It is also is the symbol of the city of Lisbon.
Besides its cuisine, which is one of the national treasures, Portugal´s rich culture is another asset. The fusion of the different, complex and intoxicating influences of the various people and cultures that have been on this land for over 800 years, contribute to making Portugal unique and exquisite. All these traits turn this small but magnanimous country into one of people's favorite destinations worldwide. The Portuguese people are well-known for their hospitality, for the bohemian lifestyle and also for enjoying a nice chat. Besides, their versatile language skills, which make foreigners feel even more welcome, are other strong traits of the Portuguese.
What is the approximate size of your Place, in square kilometers? (New question, not required)
What is the estimated population (current 2020) in your Place?
Challenges: Describe the current (2020) and the future (2050) challenges that your food system faces.
- Access to unpolluted resources, water, soil and air quality are all critical inputs for growing food. As populations continue to grow in urban areas, the rural landscape is reducing and the food demand is increasing. This is creating two challenges to population health; first is access to ‘clean’ unpolluted food and second is access to ‘fresh’ food which has a lower CO2 footprint.
- Urban agriculture (UA) has been around for a long time, however, traditional solutions are not fit for purpose so This has led to increased focus on using controlled environmental agriculture. This industry has grown significantly proposed as a solution because of the advancements in precision use of materials, such as, reducing water use by 95%, nutrient control and increased plant production by 400% using vertical farming. What is blocking the uptake is the high investment costs of the technology and the large amount of energy consumption due to the requirement of artificial lighting and climate control systems.
- Highly skilled work force producing engineers, technical and business focussed students who are not interested in farming or agriculture. Following the establishment of democracy in Portugal the higher education system was opened up to all socio-economic levels. This has lead to a proliferation of universities and technical education institutions educating the current and future workers. However, demand for these high skills in the local Lisbon is only now growing as shared services and start-ups take advantage of the low pay scales in comparison to the rest of Europe.
- There is a shift in public health similar to other parts of the world, as a result of highly processed foods heavy with sugar, fats and complex carbohydrates. Predictions of population health is similar to trends in the western world leading to increases chronic diseases such as diabetes, obesity and cancers.
Have you heard about the 10 billion people who will be living in 2050? A large portion of these people will live in urban areas. As the density increases so the demand on all resources required to maintain a vibrate and engaging city. These challenges will only be amplified unless we do something so that populations can think about their major buildings in different ways. In this context there is a complex paradigm for the food system and agriculture in 2050. Specifically, who will be the growing our food? And how? The majority of the 10 billion will be in cities, where the density of buildings and human activities will only increase the environmental pressure on air, water and food quality. Drops in regional and rural farms due to loss of older generations knowledge about farming and desertification of land can reduce food supply into cities. The urban population will face unknown access to basic nutritional needs from quality clean sources if solutions for sustainable production of fresh food are not mainstreamed now.
Full Vision: How do you describe your Vision for a regenerative and nourishing food future for your Place and People for 2050?
Bios provides an energy recovery and sustainable food production system using bio-circular economy principles for a systemic intervention in cities. We have invented the link between controlled environmental agriculture and building energy management systems. The landscape of urban and regional buildings across Europe can reduce the environmental and social impacts through creative design solutions for transforming wasted energy into food. Using urban agriculture, ag-tech, data & AI optimization we convert excess energy & CO2 from buildings into clean healthy food grown on location where it is consumed.
Our solution is a controlled environment agricultural (CEA) unit installed inside high-energy consuming buildings. Bios uses AI developed software for controlling input resources for nutrients dosing, humidity, temperature, water & energy. Integrating with buildings HVAC & energy systems, the AI system sequesters CO2 from internal air circulation & exploits thermal energy normally wasted, utilizing it to grow clean food while optimizing the energy profile of the building.
We have undertaken the project to demonstrate that building integrated agriculture can reuse resources wasted onsite, such as heat, carbon and electricity in order to capture carbon locally. The by-product of this process are plants grown onsite to supply clean vegetables without environmental impact.
Bios is an urban agricultural solution to grow fresh food inside the buildings where food is consumed, removing plastic packaging, food waste and storing energy in food.
Urban buildings are central hubs of human activity and the combination of urban agriculture allows for advancements in environmental awareness about food and waste. The waste we are addressing is not the normal waste people can see and touch, it is invisible waste of energy, heat and air. This level of integration and carbon recovery in buildings requires a high level of institutional support to ensure local, national and European standards are maintained.
The nature of our business model creates space for other urban entrepreneurs and job creation, can happened while at the same time as raising awareness about the environmental impact our places of work have directly on climate change. Our aim through the technology is to demonstrate that a bottom up approach to carbon data capture and reporting can lead to information and knowledge creation about how we think about multinational corporations.
Bios will be able to offer these corporations access to real-world data for carbon accounting and reporting, based on carbon, energy and biomass. Our tool will allow managers of large real-estate portfolios to make better decisions based on live data to better optimization energy and biomass consumption and waste. This is linked with the living activities of the buildings occupancies, changing weather conditions, energy bills and air quality. A primary part of the Bios offering is the biomass is able to clean the air for recirculation in climate systems in the future.
Raising awareness and education about how urban food is produced underpins the implementation of Bios units inside buildings servicing large numbers of consumers in Portugal and Europe. The transparent reporting about the food grown will be incorporated into onsite menus to educate and influence consumer behaviour about the importance of clean quality food, which considers the environment in its production. By sharing value generated through the unit onsite, consumers will learn it is possible to gain access to healthy fresh food in cities without the 30% food waste or the plastic packaging and improve quality through shorter supply chains.
Our vision is that urban buildings in the future will be greenhouse gas reducers and clean food producers. In unused spaces in technical areas, unseen by the public, but filled with greenhouses growing food for supply at their doorstep. Through collaboration with Bios, companies are able to augment their existing architectural structures in a way that realigns them with the sustainable, progressive and rapidly growing global movement in an effective and practical way. We are able to represent this symbiotic relationship (both on-site and digitally) in such a way that buildings can set the global standard for ecological architectural augmentation to grow plants.
Imagine a future where school, hospitals or office buildings offer bio-cricular food for salads supplied to your local store or restaurant. Or grow produce trees for reforestation and carbon sequestration to plant forests regionally. Regardless of the weather or external environment fresh nutrient dense food will always be available. Offering the future of work to ensure humans are connected to nature and the growing process is an important part of our design. This type of work will give access to carreers in high tech engineering (energy, data, horticulture) and unskilled work for plant supply. [PP1]
Transparency offered by Bios CO2 reporting based on energy/food data will positively impact the measurement & time required for transitioning to smarter buildings, by transforming local supply chains & providing city governance access to real data for decision making.
Also, what we are certain about the future is that cities will still need food, and our high-tech solution is able to offer the future of work a connection to nature through plants and high-tech skills for the engineering behind the Bios solutions.
Together we can lead the way.
How did you hear about the Food System Vision Prize?