News article

6 reasons why Priva is ready for the future

12 February 2021

After 60 years of active service in the horticultural industry as a producer, we are ready to pivot into a new direction. Since 2015, we have been slowly preparing for a future that we are now ready to commit to; providing services in addition to our hardware solutions.

Climate computer

When you think of Priva, you probably think of a climate computer. And even though that’s the backbone of our company, we are also convinced it’s not the heart of the company. Meiny: “When talking about a climate computer, you’re actually talking about realizing the perfect climate. The same goes for a water installation: you’re not selling a machine, you’re helping growers with clean water.” And there’s more to it. “In the end, it is mostly about the service to improve the crop by providing insight on what’s happening within. The grower wants answers to his questions, ‘what is the climate like?’, ‘do I have clean water? Measuring this information is one thing, but turning that into useful knowledge for the grower is much more important”, she continues. “With our new direction, we wanted to answer those questions more clearly, rather than giving the tools to do so.”

That’s because in the end, there are many more questions to be answered and more actions to be taken. “Following these questions and this information, we also wanted to give growers tools to use the information to better the climate, better the water quality and water use and better the energy efficiency.”

2015 to 2020 has been an important period for Priva to adapt to our vision of the future, and now we are ready to commit to it.
Meiny Prins

CEO Priva

Meiny Prins

Digitizing knowledge

In order to do so, we have started digitizing knowledge and now we are launching the result of this journey: several services to help growers achieve better results based on data from their own greenhouse. “A grower balances between the technology available to him and the knowledge he has on growing – a super special job that is and one of which the availability around the world became scarce.”

Priva Growth Lab

Sounds a bit like a dream and a bit surreal? We thought the same. The launch of new technologies can make it difficult to get a good idea of what it actually does for your company. To give customers a better idea of the value of their technologies, we started the Growth Lab. “Priva’s Growth Lab allows us to visualize the experience of using our technology,” says Meiny. “It allows us to show what these new developments mean for our customers, and what it means for their plants. Experiencing is an important part of it; we want to make the benefits more clear. We use these experiences to show the true value of the techniques and technology we offer.”

There are two different Growth Labs inside our Priva Campus where they showcase our technologies in a way that people can experience them; one for buildings and one for horticulture (greenhouses and indoor farming) – the divisions we thrive in.

Phil – Priva Horticulture Innovation Labs

As you can see with our Growth Lab, it is very important for us to know that our services are of value to the customer. To be sure of this, we are also investing in innovation labs, starting with Phil, which is short for Priva Horticulture Innovation Labs. In these labs, new ideas can be developed fast and we can pilots with new services. We can test the waters and get a better idea of what the customer thinks is valuable. Currently, autonomous growing and energy savings, and making that visible for the clients are focus areas. “If you want to deliver a service, you have to also ask yourself what kind of value you are creating for your customers,” says Meiny. “You can bring anything into the cloud and call it a service, but if it doesn’t add any value it is not worth the bandwidth.”

Phil Office

Incorporation of horticulture into urban areas

The new activities fit in our ambition and the vision that has Meiny’s heart: pushing for better incorporation of agriculture into urban areas. Over the last decade, Meiny has been actively promoting her concept of Sustainable Urban Deltas all over the world and tirelessly shared the story about how the impact of climate change on our food production has become such an issue that billions of people will go hungry by 2050, if we keep the system as it is.

Even though the story is adapted broadly, and the Dutch horticultural industry as a whole started positioning itself more and more as a part of the solution to the global food problem, Meiny says the story still needs to be shared.

“The green belt that is consistently being pushed out needs to be incorporated into the planning in large urban areas,” she says. “We need urban farming at a serious scale to combat this issue. Beijing today is a city of 12 million, the green belt surrounding the city only supplies about 10% of its food and the rest is being imported from other areas – anything but sustainable. This is why we are calling large cities into action. They need to start feeling responsible for rethinking how to feed their populace.”

De Lier from sky

We want to help close the gap with the economy

And it’s not just words. This story also played an important role in the development of new products. Meiny is convinced that the entire food system needs to be examined, and subsequently changed, in order to have a real impact. “The current monoculture of food production is a big burden on the environment,” she says. “30% of CO2 emissions come from food production. We want to combat this by connecting the dots, for instance by using the wastewater of a city for food production or having a tomato grower deliver energy to an entire residential area. We can’t solve this problem on our own. We’re not a turnkey player, nor do we want to be. We want to be the connector between users, and we want to help close the gap with the economy.”

That’s where the new services come in. “Dutch growers have been ingested with the importance and the knowledge on how to reach optimum efficiency in their crop. The global character of the industry urged us to make this knowledge also available to growers with a different background – whether it’s Chinese real estate or Russian retail. With our services, we want to make optimization available to them and with our Growth Labs we want to show them what they can do.”

Climate as a service

The new services are provided as subscriptions. Our responsibility for the value of our product does not stop after bringing a service into the cloud. “Putting software in the cloud is the easy part,” says Meiny. “But the more important part of it is taking the customers’ feedback and making the service more valuable through their input. A cloud set-up allows for easy updates on the customer side, as well as easily accessible sources of information and direct feedback. It also gives us an opportunity to offer direct support to customers with more specific issues. This adds a lot of value to the service.”