Four Canberrans collaborate in China to create a world first: technology to grow your own food

Posted 4 Jul 2017

Story by CBR Canberra

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You could say, Canberran, James Leonard Deamer lives and breathes business and innovation.

He studied a Bachelor of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at University of Canberra (UC), was the Community Manager for the start-up co-working space Entry 29, and is currently chasing his dreams in the world capital of hardware and innovation, Shenzhen China.

James is the Chief Executive and co-founder of GardenSpace and says it’s because of Canberra’s fabulous entrepreneurial community that he could take his visual sensor technology for home gardens innovation worldwide.

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“The support of the Entry29 community helped GardenSpace gain momentum and it was there that we were introduced to the HAX accelerator in Shenzhen,” James said.

The team of five, all from Canberra, are the second Australian team to be accepted into HAX, a hardware accelerator program after defying the odds to secure backing of $100,000 for a four-month intensive program.

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“I met my co-founders at Entry29, we started collaborating on different hardware projects and expanded GardenSpace, an innovation I began working on whilst studying at UC.

“GardenSpace aims to help people grow food at home by using a visual sensor. A camera and other visual sensors sit on top of a pole that are able to monitor your food and garden, and automate parts of your garden maintenance such as watering and protecting it from pests.”

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GardenSpace prototype

James says if you’re developing an innovation, programs such as Entry 29 are where you need to be.

“Entry 29 is great for start-ups because when you have a question or you get stuck with something during the start-up process, someone most likely has done it previously and will want to help you solve it,” James said.

The team are grateful to have benefited from Canberra’s passion for helping others succeed.

“You can easily connect with world class researchers in Canberra, which has been great for us.”

“We’ve been getting a lot of advice from researchers at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), and it’s all because we’re based in Canberra and have the same connections as them,” James said.

The team are ecstatic with how fast the development of GardenSpace is moving in the HAX program and are looking forward to sharing what they have learnt with the start-up community at home.

“We have made so many new connections that link us to China and have accrued a great amount of knowledge which we can distill into the community at Entry 29 and other start-ups around Canberra.”

James says when they get back on home soil their priorities include eating some non-Chinese food and continue developing GardenSpace from Canberra.

“We’re running a test program in July. We’ll have prototype units at customers’ homes so they can use them and give us feedback. We’ll be able to test the units to their capacity before we go to another kick starter late in the year,” James said.

If you’re interested in growing your own food at home, Gardenspace is selecting people from their newsletter list to give free test units to as part of their research. You can sign up here.

 

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