15 engineers to build indoor vertical farms in element14’s new Vertical Farming Design Challenge

Participants will create IoT-enabled gardens and harvest crops with support from vertical farming facilities

element14, the world’s largest online community for design engineers and technology enthusiasts, has selected the 15 finalists who will take part in their new Vertical Farming Design Challenge. These individuals will build indoor vertical gardens using IoT technologies and methods that have the potential to change how food is produced around the world.

“The vertical farming industry presents a real opportunity to address food shortages spurred by environmental and population changes,” said Dianne Kibbey, Global Head of Community, element14. “The Vertical Farming Design Challenge is just one of element14’s newest initiatives to solve pressing real-world problems by empowering engineers with the technology and resources needed to find a lasting solution. We’re excited to see what our participants come up with and are proud to be at the forefront of these efforts.”

The 15 participants in the Vertical Farming Design Challenge, and their home countries, are as follows:

  • Ognyan Chikov, Bulgaria
  • Keith Earns, United States
  • John Henderson, United States
  • Calla Klafas, Australia
  • Erik Lau, United States
  • José Marques, Portugal
  • James O’Donnell, United States
  • Kowshik E Patel, India
  • Michael Ratcliffe, United Kingdom
  • Rick Reynolds, United States
  • Clem Martins, United States
  • Ajit Singh, India
  • Shane Sissons, United Kingdom
  • Joshua Tsai, United States
  • Srinivasan Kanni Udaiyar, India

Competitors have until November 2 to create their indoor vertical farms. element14 will provide each participant with a kit of IoT-enabled technologies from Silicon Labs and Wurth Elektronik to help with the designs. Green Spirit Farms, FarmedHere and the Association for Vertical Farming (AVF) will guide challengers though the growing and harvesting process – providing recommendations on moisture, lighting and humidity ranges to be aware of when planting the crops and the optimal time to transfer and harvest those crops.

Along with the resulting crops, entries will be judged on originality, innovation, technical merit and data points collected. The grand prize, second and third prize winners will be announced on November 17 and their awards will be the following:

  • Grand Prize – A Global Solar SUNLINQ™ 62-Watt Foldable Solar Panel Kit, The Nest® Learning Thermostat™, a Wurth Elektronik Energy Harvesting Kit and a $250 donation to the AVF in the challenger’s name.
  • Second Prize – The ALLPOWERS™ 18V 28W Foldable Solar Charger, The Nest® Learning Thermostat™, and a $250 donation to the AVF in the challenger’s name.
  •  Third Prize – The Nest® Learning Thermostat™, and a $250 donation to the AFV in the challenger’s name.

All Challengers who submit a completed project will receive a one year membership to the AVF and a $100 donation to the AVF in the challenger’s name. Each competitor will provide weekly updates on their progress through blog posts, photos and videos via the element14 Community. 

The Vertical Farming Challenge is the latest competition as part of a broader Engineering a Connected World initiative from the element14 Community. The program, which includes a worldwide study of more than 3,500 consumers, is designed to drive innovation by connecting engineers to powerful new ideas, the latest technologies and to each other, and to make the ordinary, extraordinary.

To learn more about the Vertical Farming Design Challenge and follow along with the 15 competitors, visit



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