Creating an indoor plant system one Hydropod at a time

15 Jul 2021
Masdar City, Masdar City Freezone, Innovation
Can you imagine a smart garden in your home that grows vegetables automatically – with virtually no time or need for a green thumb?

Aline Pate did imagine this, and better yet, developed it.

The HydroArtPod is a system built with smart grow channels that keep the nutrient-rich water distributed evenly, which optimizes the level of air and water so the plant roots can thrive at all times.

The system not only supplies fresh produces for an entire month, but its smart functions notify the grower, when it requires attention through an app.

When Aline came up with the idea, she and her husband Richard, pitched it to The Catalyst at Masdar City. Having previously worked with Masdar on the food security project Bustani, Aline said she was confident about The Catalyst as the right incubator for The HydroArtPod, as she had personally experienced Masdar’s commitment to addressing sustainable development.

The business is now the first indoor garden that grows around 30 plants, which can also function as living art. Accompanied by an app, the indoor garden needs little gardening knowledge, as all the information is available on hand, further proving the innovative spirit of the venture.

“Being a part of The Catalyst is about becoming a part of bigger ecosystem,” said Richard, “The team not only funds you, but offers you guidance to develop a strategic approach to the business.” There is now a clear path to not only develop the creative side, but business angles covering everything from IP protection, marketing and building the team, through to sales/distribution and manufacturing.”

The Catalyst team was available to answer any questions throughout the process and even supported them to organize local manufacturing. When the team hit a roadblock, The Catalyst team created an opportunity to pitch HydroPod on popular broadcast Emarat TV. The inventors participated in the show Sustainability Pioneer, showcasing the highly marketable lifestyle product to the wider group, and won.

This success has not come without its challenges. Aline tested various different designs and various approaches, which took approximately 3 years, before she finally zeroed in on a suitable prototype.  Her vision was to develop a version that she could keep in her home and grow organic and pesticide-free food for her family all year round. And her success was evident when friends started asking if she could develop this for their homes. The idea to go to market was the result of frequent curious requests from friends and their wider circle of acquaintances.