The Biocultivator enables planting, self-irrigation and vermicomposting of kitchen waste. Vermicompost continuously produces soil and organic liquid fertilizer that is used to fertilize the greens growing in the cultivator.
The product works as its own small ecosystem, directly on the balcony. Functional parts of the Biocultivator are interconnected for mutual support of their tasks.
A fringe benefit may be that owners of the cultivator feel reconnected to nature, in a small but steady way, by using it to grow their own food and (re-)acquainting themselves with the tradition of planting in order to care for the environment, and the health and wellbeing of all.
"GROW YOUR OWN
EASY & SMART
Our product provides cultivation & innovative organic design; integrated smart system; vermicompost; production of own fertile soil & organic liquid fertilizer; the system produces its own electric energy; self-irrigation is ensured by passive biomimetic water collection.
The Biocultivator provides a simplified view of how an ecosystem or the entire biosphere works. The system uses the heat energy generated by the vermicompost for the stack effect, meaning hot air rises and is a trigger for cooling the system from the bottom up during hot summer—a passive ventilation system.
On top of the cupola will be solar cells. Solar power is then stored as electric energy in a 12V battery, providing possibilities to integrate smart system controls: Users can check conditions and status of planting and compost simply on a smartphone, they can directly observe natural processes, participate in balancing a system and fully understand how biomimicry innovations can ensure steps towards a sustainable bio-inspired future.
We focused on the product on the system level and studied the concept of circulation of the water and nutrients in ecosystems. Small forest ecosystems inspired them in terms of keeping water and temperature in balance. The semi-closed ecosystem in the Biocultivator was designed based on the inspiration taken from the water circulation and decomposition processes in nature. The biowaste in the forest is used as “food”. Decomposing processes are accelerated by the synergic actions of microorganisms, fungi, worms, insects etc. Decomposing of the biowaste generates heat which, in turn, supports evaporation. The small water droplets are condensed on the tree leaves and rocks. The water in the proposed system of biocultivator originates mainly from the water amount in the compost. The user needs to add little water to the system. By evaporation, this water is collected and recycled by condensation on the inner surface of the cupola.
The compost itself is a living organism and represents “home” for the colony of worms that are decomposing the waste in the Biocultivator four times faster than in regular composters. Worms are producing both the organic liquid fertilizer which flows into the drawer on the bottom of the product, and the solid parts that are used as fertile hummus during the growing season—ensuring water and nutrient circulation in the whole system. The innovative idea is based on utilization of all elements that are circled in ecosystems.
In spring 2015, the “Five for Life” team from the Technical University in Zvolen, Slovakia participated in the Biomimicry Global Design Challenge for which they developed the concept of the Balcony Cultivator. The cultivator was conceived as a path toward sustainable living for common people residing in contemporary apartments with no access to their own garden. They aimed to develop ways for regular balcony gardening. The developed prototype was successfully selected as one of the seven finalists from all over the world. Additionally, the Balcony Cultivator won the People´s Choice Award which encouraged the team to continue the development. In 2016, they founded a startup company B4D (biomimicry for design). Finalists were invited to participate in a one-year accelerator program supported by the Biomimicry Institute and the Ray C. Anderson Foundation (Interface) which facilitated further development of the team’s concept into a new product, the Biocultivator— an innovative bio-inspired balcony greenhouse with integrated vermicomposter for urban areas.
In fall 2016, we were selected as the finalist of Startup Awards Slovakia in category Art & Design.
In 2017 we participated in a call the OpenMaker project aims to create a transformational and collaborative ecosystem that fosters collective innovations within the European manufacturing sector and drives it towards more sustainable business models, production processes, products, and governance systems.The OpenMaker consortium is running an accelerator programme in four European cities (Florence, Liverpool, Bratislava, and Bilbao) by establishing a ‘Local Enabling Space’ (LES) in each city. Within each LES, the Enablers are dedicated human resources with sound community management skills. Enablers will deploy active methods for community building and engagement, primarily targeting traditional manufacturers and makers.
We are currently one of the winning projects and thanks to the grant support, we are able to finish the most important phase of the prototyping of the concept.
We believe that our team can handle all challenges associated with development and marketing of BIOcultivator. At this stage, we are at the beginning of proof-of-concept phase. We manufactured 3D prototype in scale 1:3 as the proof of the design concept and we are currently manufacturing baseline prototype 1:1 and samples for testing. According to our market survey, the popular innovative solutions for gardening in small spaces are hydroponics systems. These smart devices need to be plug into the electricity and used to use a lot of artificial fertilizers. Our product is different on many levels. It is not only a well designed smart box for the cultivation of „herbs“. It is a complete ecosystem that serves to our customer during the entire year. Currently, we are capital seekers for proto-phase and serial-phase funding. We believe that with our current small equity we would be able to successfully finish the proof-of-concept phase and then convince an investor that our solution has a big potential to penetrate the market-related the gardening, agricultural, organic & bioproducts business.
FRANTIŠEK TÓTH / CEO design & prototyping
He is a designer with a doctorate in wood processing technologies. His area of expertise is a connection between the art of design and modern innovative technologies. He is responsible for prototyping, manufacturing, and testing of the whole system. He is an operator of CNC technologies. He coordinates all activities related to the project and communicates with media .
ZUZANA TONČÍKOVÁ / biomimicry thinking & design
Zuzana is an assistant professor in the Department of Furniture and Interior Design (TU Zvolen). She is a former Fulbright scholar at Purdue University in the area of sustainable product development. She is a designer, supervisor, and coordinator of all activities related to the project together with Fratisek. Zuzana is ultimately responsible for the strategy behind the design of the organization's products and services, and also oversee marketing communications, community relations, internal relations, investor relations, and other interactions between the organization and its various audiences.
MIROSLAV CHOVAN / design & visual communication
Designer – an expert in graphic design. Miroslav is an assistant professor in the Department of Furniture and Interior Design as well as Zuzana. He is responsible for all marketing materials related to the project and visual image of a company.
DÁVID JURÍK / design and CAD
David is a designer. He works for Aufeer Design in the Czech Republic. He is an expert for 3D visualization. He is able to create video visualization and virtual reality visualizations necessary for testing of the product before prototyping.