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July 18, 2021 | Tom Ballard

Eden Concepts wins another Phase I SBIR grant, this time from the NSF

Eden Concepts, a Knoxville-based agricultural technology start-up that we most recently spotlighted in this November 2020 article, has won another mall Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I grant, this time from the National Science Foundation (NSF). The earlier award was $100,000 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

According to Founder Walter Cromer, the $256,000 award will enable Eden Concepts to design, develop, test and deliver a product to reduce labor and production costs for commercial vegetable, flower, and specialty crop growers. “Our goal is to develop a system that eliminates the planting labor component, improves soil health, and reduces the use of fossil fuels on a farm,” he said.

To achieve its objective, Eden Concepts will develop simulation models of the innovation and then design, build, and field-test a prototype over the next year. The system will eliminate the expensive and labor-consuming transplant process and be autonomous so that it will not require any human operators. Cromer expects the prototype will weigh as much as 75 percent less than the conventional transplanting system, reducing soil compaction and contributing to improved soil health. In addition, the all-electric system will eliminate the use of on-farm fossil fuels in the planting process. When commercially deployed, the envisioned system can be used by vegetable, flower, medicinal herb, and specialty crop growers worldwide.

Design, development, and testing will occur over the next 18 months, with the delivery of the first units thereafter. Those interested in being part of the product development process can contact Eden Concepts directly at or by phone at 865/719-5327.

Cromer was a participant in the 2018 edition of the “AgLaunch Bootcamp” organized by Memphis-based AgLaunch and the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center. Ironically, the announcement about the SBIR award came in the midst of the 2021 edition of the bootcamp.

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