Nothing but good things to say

AMIC is helping a sustainable tech start-up bring its product to life

The team behind a technology start-up developing a plant monitor for home gardeners says Mohawk College’s Additive Manufacturing Innovation Centre (AMIC) helped them get to the next stage of their concept.

EarthOne, launched by a group of Mohawk College and McMaster University graduates, brings together sensors that measure light, humidity, soil moisture, temperature and soil acidity into a dashboard in a wireless monitor, along with software that identifies plants and determines what they need to thrive in each category.

“Our motto is science-based plant care,” says co-founder and CEO Sid Pereira. The idea is to make living sustainability more achievable.

“There are many passionate home growers and this is a new generation of tool for them,” says Daniel Hacikyan, EarthOne’s head of operations. Both graduated from the joint B. Tech program of Mohawk College and McMaster University in 2019.

The platform, which is set to optimize foliage, flowering and yield, can even forecast the harvest date of produce plants. When the team was challenged by mentors and investors to develop a functional prototype, they explored their options.

After getting a quote for $200,000 for design services, a mentor at Innovation Factory suggested they look at AMIC at Mohawk College. A collaboration launched in January. EarthOne contributed $7,500 and in return got a design that was about 70 percent complete, says Pereira.

“It was phenomenal for us. I have nothing but good things to say. We learned how to design a printed circuit board alongside them and we were able to take the design from 70 percent to 100 per cent ourselves.”

AMIC also brought its expertise in advanced manufacturing to the design of sensors and a durable monitor case. EarthOne is now validating its product and platform with about 60 gardening enthusiasts.

The project is supported in part by funding from the FedDev Ontario-supported Southern Ontario Network for Advanced Manufacturing Innovation (SONAMI), a consortium of innovative Ontario colleges and universities that includes Mohawk College.