Established in January 2014, N.THING is an award-winning Seoul-based agritech company leading innovation in agricultural products, in the farm-to-table food value chain by combining IoT technology and data, providing businesses with technology that defies the law of nature. The company formally launched operations in the UAE in 2020 after completing its PoC — proof of concept — in Abu Dhabi with Smart Acres, the UAE's latest vertical farm, with the mission to improve food security, develop the country’s farming capabilities, and provide a solution to potential socio-economic threats such as the pandemic and climate limitations the Middle East currently endures. The company was able to grow four different vegetables, utilising the PoC process, which led to the production of up to 12 tons annually.
N.THING is the world’s first smart farming company to have won the 'iF Design Award', 'Architecture in 2020', 'Best of Innovation' at the CES 2020, for its excellence in technology, which is the first-ever in the agricultural field and more recently, N.THING's groundbreaking CUBE has received recognition as an Honoree at the CES Innovation Awards for sustainability, eco-design, and smart energy.
Ensuring sustainability and efficiency of crop production
N.THING seeks to create a sustainable future for food by combining agriculture with IoT technology with an aim to maximise yield and quality. In order to achieve this, the company controls all environmental factors to ensure optimisation for the crops, offering a more sustainable, more stable, and safer farming method with mass production without compromising on quality.
The company is on a mission to eventually innovate the farm-to-table food value chain and provide not only fresh but high-quality crops to everyone, efficiently.
Role of technology in agriculture in the future
At N.THING, the company vision consists of hacking the whole food value chain to feed the world using their decentralised farming software that can be localised to provide fresh, tasty, and safe food anytime, anywhere, regardless of the outdoor environment. The agriculture industry was already facing numerous challenges, even before the Covid-19 pandemic, such as the ever-increasing demographic population, climate change causing decreased productivity, and the overuse of natural resources. He added that it was due to this that the company adopted the digital transformation process to improve efficiency, value, and innovation using IoT technology. This technology can control temperature and moisture levels with built-in camera monitoring, aerial images, and other precision agriculture and robotic systems to allow farms to be more profitable, efficient, safe, and eco-friendly.
Effect of the global pandemic on the farming sector
The global pandemic impacted the entire food supply chain, highlighting a food system that is interconnected and fragile, from the movement restrictions of workers, changes in the demand of consumers, to the closure of food production facilities. The way in which the region confronts these challenges will have a major impact on its prosperity and quality of life, not only in the next year, but in the decades to come. As a result, it's becoming more and more vital to re-orient and transform the food system to be more resilient and sustainable, assuring that all the food supply chain disruptions are minimised. N.THING’s vertical farming process is currently 80-90 per cent automated, with the aim to achieve 100 per cent automation within five years.
Vision in the Middle East
Currently, the GCC region supplies almost 80 per cent of its domestic food needs through imports, which requires a steady supply, and is dependent on various factors, hence, the region's profitable investments in agriculture technology. With an intention to increase local production capacity, and the increasing consumer demand for fresher, locally grown, and eco-friendly produce, the Middle East agritech sector has shown significant growth in the past 18 months and will continue to thrive. These are favourable factors that could lead to innovation and development, making the Middle East, and particularly the UAE, focusing on food security, an exporter of fresh vegetables and crops in the next few years. At N.THING, the company is committed to reinvesting into R&D technology to build a long-term and sustainable partnership with the UAE to enhance the overall food security.
What is CUBE?
CUBE is a standardised, energy-saving, lean by design, indoor vertical farm that offers scalability and cultivation efficiency. Compared to conventional farming, CUBE increases the yield up to 100 times per unit area, operated by green energy, while using only four per cent of water and disposes of the water through a water purification system. He added that they do not use any harmful materials to the soil, or environment and without any pesticide.
Inside the CUBE farm, the environment is fully controlled with IoT technology and dedicated OS, which guarantees stable production of high-quality crops — grown pesticide-free and without outside harmful substances. Ultimately, they adopt a sustainable agriculture model that does not pollute the surrounding environment while using fewer resources, contributing actively and purposely to sustain an organic ecosystem, and reducing food waste (on-demand production).