Wageningen-based company Plant-e was awarded a 2.5M€ grant from the European Innovation Council (EIC). The grant was awarded for further development of sensorapplications that are powered by living plants. This is a solution for both urban and remote situations where for example soil moisture or waterlevel needs to be monitored. Plant-e develops technology in which living plants generate electricity. This technology was originally developed at Wageningen University (the Netherlands) and is being commercialized by Plant-e. Plant-e delivered several ambient lighting systems powered by plants since 2014. Since 2019 focus has shifted towards powering IoT solutions. The EIC grant is the last push towards commercialisation and scalability of the sensor-applications.

Plant-e is a spin-off company of the department of Environmental Technology of Wageningen University and was founded in 2009. Since then the company has grown to 10+ employees and has shown to be a reliable provider of inspiring lighting systems powered by living plants. These systems were delivered in the Netherlands and abroad and were further developed over the years 2014-2021.

In 2019 the company started developing sensor-applications that are powered by living plants. This enables monitoring of both urban and remote greenery. First focus is on soil-moisture and groundwaterlevel monitoring. By using living plants as a power source the use of batteries can be avoided, which improves sustainability as well as reliability of the sensorsystem. Batteries need (bi-)annual replacement and contribute highly to a growing amount of waste. Moreover, regular replacement of batteries is both capital and labour intensive. Plant-e can provide a sustainable and low-maintenance alternative through plantpower.

Plant-e partners with several companies within the supply chain to seamlessly connect the plantpower source to several types of sensors, a range of measuring frequencies and ensure high data-quality for (future) customers. This way Plant-e delivers an end-to-end solution, from power source to data-dashboard, to fully service their customers.

The EIC-grant enables Plant-e to further integrate the supply chain and fully dedicate the plantpower source to sensor-applications. Next to that Plant-e will work on automization and scale-up of production to reduce delivery time and production costs.

The EIC jury praises Plant-e in their evaluation report: “The jury was impressed with the tenacity, durability and innovation of the company and its management team.”  Plant-e’s technology was regarded highly as well. One of the evaluators of the proposal mentioned: “The generation of energy from plants is an advanced technology of the future… At the same time this method/product is even able to save CO2 while working, that’s a real novelty.”

The Plant-e team reacts enthusiastically. CEO Marjolein Helder: “This enables us to speed up the development of the products and the team at the same time. Ànd it’s the confirmation that we’re on the right track. Development of innovative technology in a changing market is challenging and it’s really helpful if someone tells you once in a while that you’re doing a good job. The competition for an EIC grant is high, less then 1 in 10 applications is granted. So receiving one is very rewarding, especially when the feedback you get is as positive as this.”


Following the grant-period of 2 years there’s an opportunity to negotiate equity investment through the EIC. This would give another impulse to the company to scale-up sales and detail out the sales channels.


To read the official EIC press release, click here:


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