The Gropod by Heliponix, which is a dishwasher-sized, food computer that grows a head of organic leafy greens on a daily basis, won the Best New Tech Product award during TechPoint’s 19th annual Mira Awards gala honoring the best of tech in Indiana.
Scott Massey and Ivan Ball met while they were students at Purdue University assisting in the design of a NASA funded, hydroponic growth chamber under the direction of Professor of Horticulture Dr. Cary Mitchell, with the ultimate goal of growing sustainable food in space colonies.
The project left the pair of future entrepreneurs wondering why this sustainable technology wasn’t being commercialized on a large scale here on earth, and they realized that there was a gap in the market for an automated, aeroponic appliance capable of sustaining an individual’s consumption of produce. As Purdue University seniors, Scott and Ivan turned their “napkin drawing” into a functional prototype that they self funded — quite literally with a paper route. This resulted in a patented, revolutionary product that could make aeroponic appliances viable for consumers to grow produce in the convenience of their own homes.
The Heliponix GroPod is an aeroponic appliance the size of a typical consumer dishwasher that grows produce three times (3x) faster than conventional farming methods, using 95 percent less water without the use of pesticides. This accelerated growth rate, spanned over 40 planting ports, equates to the user having a head of leafy greens of their choice, every single day.
Heliponix™ sells both the GroPod appliance and a subscription for nonperishable seed pods. Heliponix™ seed pods are exclusively compatible with the Heliponix™ software infrastructure required to actuate the grow lights and pump through a proprietary API. The GroPod eliminates the need to throw away ANY produce by keeping it alive to maximize taste and nutritional content. The revolutionary design features a patented, vertical tower inside of a climate controlled chamber, which TRIPLES the yields, and with HALF the power consumption of any competing system.
The Mira Awards judges were impressed by the early sales traction Heliponix has already generated for a $2,000+ consumer appliance and subscription. They also believe that the thoughtful and comprehensive approach of the founders coupled with international trends in food safety (the appliance is the only Food-Safe Certified unit on the market); consumer demand for clean, local organics and food chain knowledge; nutritional content and personalized taste; all position Heliponix as a potential “category killer” with significant opportunity to capture a large share of the global vertical farming market, which is a nearly billion dollar industry and expected to register a compound annual growth rate of 32 percent through 2025, according to Whatech.
TechPoint, the growth initiative for Indiana’s tech ecosystem, honored the successes and innovation of Indiana companies, entrepreneurs, educators, and other leaders at The JW Marriott Indianapolis during the 19th annual Mira Awards gala presented by Angie’s List, Infosys, and Salesforce.
A total of 15 award winners and two honorable mentions were chosen from the 100+ outstanding companies, organizations, and individuals who were selected as nominees this year out of the 205 applications received highlighting achievements during the 2017 calendar year.
Fifty-two independent, volunteer judges spent more than 850 total hours reviewing and ranking applications, interviewing nominees, and selecting this year’s winners. Judges included company founders, CEOs and presidents; CTOs, CIOs and software developers; professors and chancellors from Indiana universities; design, human resources and sales professionals, and a variety of other subject matter experts.
The Mira Awards are named after the first of the brilliant variable stars to be discovered – the Mira Star. It is also the Latin root meaning “worthy of admiration, wonderful, marvelous.” The awards represent the best of tech in Indiana each year.