Dr. Alina Schick
Vertical farming, vertical gardening
Trees that do not grow skywards, but horizontally – building concepts for the self-sufficient supply of food, energy, water and clean air. At Visioverdis, technical and botanical components are growing together to form new answers to tackling climate change and creating the habitats of the future.
“It’s all about bringing more plants into our cities and making better use of the potential of plants for the benefit of mankind,” Dr Alina Schick explains. She points to a building of the University of Hohenheim. On the facade, a vertical garden is visible from which little privet trees stretch out horizontally. People out walking stop and marvel at the sight. The little trees are rotating – slowly but noticeably.
“Horizontal spaces are all sold for a lot of money, rented or used for other purposes. When you plant on facades, you make use of free spaces that aren’t expensive.” It ensures better air filtration, improves the climate – and of course there is also a design aspect to consider.
“At the beginning we were still ridiculed as vertical gardeners,” she remembers. “However, we’re not facade planters, we simply build products using botanical and technological means.” A contradiction? For Alina Schick it is more of a symbiosis. “And I also think that a start-up and the time-honoured science of botany go together wonderfully.”
The initial spark was already quite extraordinary in itself: “I originally worked on gravitational biology. I was interested in ways of growing plants in space on the ISS.”
But the first attempts made by Visioverdis did not look in the least like science, fiction or space travel as experiments were carried out with washing machine drums and small trees, resulting in GraviPlant. “A very caring single plant supply system,” she says.
“Do-gooders? More like urban and habitat improvers.”
She also feels ideally cared for in Baden-Württemberg. A good location for Visioverdis: “There are plenty of good funding programmes here. This is a very attractive state for the start-up scene,” she says. And as it is also the state of engineers, the crème de la crème is never very far away.
“This is where things really come together,” she says: the engineers, the architects, the agriculture. “All these factors make Baden-Württemberg a highly fascinating, interdisciplinary environment.”
An ideal environment for a greentech company like Visioverdis – and for Alina Schick, who originally hails from Bonn. “I like it here. It’s a green state, with beautiful forests, orchard meadows and the Swabian Alb.” That is a very special compliment, coming from a biologist.
She wants to actively work with Visioverdis to ensure that it stays green and becomes even greener. “Our ideas clearly contribute to our having more beautiful cities.” However, Alina Schick doesn’t want to be seen as a do-gooder. “That sounds like too tall an order, but urban and habitat improvers – that’s what we are.”