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Keeping the inner workings of Urban Health Farms running smoothly, Nadirsha comes to us with a background in legal, HR, general management and administration. Beginning her career as a corporate lawyer, Nadirsha’s experience achieving success in multinational corporations attending CEO’s and working with Human Resources is a valuable asset for Urban Health Farms. Most recently, she was the Head of the HUB Executive Assistant and HR Specialist for the Nestlé Zone Americas HUB.
Nadirsha has also been an Administrator for Maersk Central America, the General Manager Administrative Assistant for Adidas Latin America, as well as administrative positions with Posco Daewoo Corporation, Roche Diagnostics, and the Pfizer Corporation. In addition to her valuable discretion in handling confidential matters, her experience onboarding new hires, coordinating details, and a team building planner will help UHF continue to scale efficiently.
Mira is leading the marketing team for Urban Health Farms and is an expert in maintaining effective communications, running and improving lead generation campaigns, measuring results and ensuring all relevant parties are kept informed of marketing objectives. Prior to joining the team, Mira worked in strategic business development and was a marketing manager in the renewable energy sector in several multinational companies.
In 2005, Mira was entrusted to run the marketing team of a U.S. based company in the Philippines and more than doubled the company’s client base by delivering exceptional customer service and sales. Working closely with management, she is exceptionally skilled at capturing clients from abroad and coordinating promotional efforts, especially those that expand the company’s reach. Mira holds a Business Administration degree and from the University of the Visayas, Philippines and is active in the renewable energy association.
Strategic & Sustainability Advisor
Leen has been a recognised international leader with over 25 years of experience in technology and sustainability. As a founder of more than 20 different companies in the fields of AI, VR, renewable energy, corporate social responsibility and sustainable development, Leen has extensive C-level and Boardroom experience. As the Founder and Chairman of B Lab Europe, Leen has facilitated the certification of over 800 European companies as B Corp and oversaw the creation of the largest global organisation of sustainable companies. In addition to his continuing presence on the Board of B Lab Europe, Leen comes to Urban Health Farms from his position as the Chairman of the Board of Bolesian AI, helping to rebuild and guide the company to become a leading AI firm with a focus on AI for Good. Maintaining that focus throughout his distinguished career, Leen holds a Masters in Quantitative Business Economics and a Postdoctoral in Accountancy, both from Erasmus University. Leen’s style of leadership, which brings fun and happiness to the workplace, is an energising addition to the Urban Health Farms Team.
In addition to owning and operating a walnut farm in the south of France – a passion that turned into a lifestyle – Leen is the bestselling author of five different books on sustainability and business management and a recent TEDx speaker. The newest book, Once Upon a Future, was published in March of 2020 to critical and commercial acclaim..
Chief Commercial Officer
Joining the Urban Health Farms team as Commercial Director, Joost Verhagen has over two decades of experience in the international food business industry and brings valuable expertise in simultaneously managing multiple operations across Europe while leading corporate development with innovative marketing strategies. Joost has spent the last decade as owner of Export Growth Consulting, an interim and consultancy firm specialising in sales and marketing in the global food business industry. He has held positions as an ad interim for several renowned (inter)national companies including as a Senior Category Manager for Jumbo (the second largest Dutch supermarket chain), Sales Director for John West/Thai Union (the largest canned fish producer in the world), International Sales Director at HG International (the European market leader in specialty cleaning), Export Manager Europe at De Traay (the Dutch market leader in honey products), and European Marketing Manager at Klaas Puul (the leading European shrimp producer).
Prior to his time at Export Growth Consulting, Joost gained experience in several managerial positions throughout the European food industry including Business Development Manager and Marketing Director of Patisserie for CSM France (where he spent two years as an expat living in France), Business Unit Director for CSM Benelux, and Key Account Manager Benelux and National Account Manager for Nestlé. In addition, Joost serves on the Board of de Kameleons, the biggest food business interim marketing and sales network organization in the Netherlands. He began his career with a Masters of Business Administration from Webster University, and an undergraduate degree in Commercial Economics from Hogeschool‘s-Hertogenbosch. Celebrated by his peers, including our own Managing Director Leen Zevenbergen, Joost’s passion and professionalism is a welcome addition to the Urban Health Farms team.
Project Development Director
Thomas joins the Urban Health Farms team with a passion for sustainability and a keen ability to define and execute international expansion strategies in technical business environments. He has a hands-on approach, and focuses on guiding companies in their efforts to meet and exceed targets while building and strengthening the business foundation. Thomas comes to us with a Business Management degree from Karel de Grote-Hogeschool with an emphasis on International Entrepreneurship, as well as completing internships and certifications that build on his passion for business and commercial strategy.
In addition, Thomas has international experience working in China, Belgium, the U.S. and the Netherlands, fulfilling roles as a project and marketing manager, a group commercial director, and managing director. He has also founded an import, sales and distribution company of sustainable building and HVAC products. With his experience in manufacturing, energy, engineering, logistics, IT and HR, Thomas brings a welcome energy and passion to the team. In his spare time, he frequently travels to Belgium where he helps out his father on his ranch applying the principles of permaculture, hence his enthusiasm for future proof farming.
Chief of Agronomy
As the son of a greenhouse grower, agronomy has always been a part of Peter’s life. After receiving his education in Greenhouse Cultivation from HAS University, Peter held roles in product development, advisory, and sales and management in various international companies such as Eurofins, ICL, and Laurense Crop advisor. In addition, he was a crop expert and business development director at Wageningen University Greenhouse Technology.
In 2003, Peter founded Botany B.V through the acquisition of the research facility of Wageningen University Research Station in Horst, and quickly built a team of cultivation managers to start operating greenhouse R&D facilities for commercial companies. Within five years, Peter had grown Botany to encompass open field and container nursery stock research facilities, indoor farming research facilities and research laboratories, building the company’s expertise in plant physiology, entomology and phytopathology.
In 2009, Botany acquired Aegisto, a GEP-accredited company for research and registration research of pesticides. Two years later, Botany designed and built their first vertical farm. From 2014 onwards, Peter led the founding and acquisition of a number of companies that elevated and diversified the expertise of the Group, including BrightBox (vertical farming research, demonstration and education), Exploras (arable crop research), Innoveins (business development), Innoveins Seed Solutions (research in seed enhancement activities), PhenoVerius (AI-based laboratory machinery), Asperico and Innexo (a bio-pharmaceutical business).
Chief Technology Officer
Thijs Maathuis has over 14 years of experience in the horticulture and the civil engineering industry. He started his career as a supervisor and site engineer on construction projects and further developed his expertise as project manager, sales and business developer. For the past four years, Thijs has been the Founder and Chief Technology Officer of HX Agriculture, an agricultural development company that brought together growers, investors and agri- and horticultural suppliers.
Prior to his time as CTO, Thijs was a consultant for the horticulture industry with his own holding company, as well as an export manager with Certhon Greenhouse Solutions and a Business Developer with Royal Volker Wessels Stevin. Thijs is committed to developing horticultural and indoor vertical farming projects for Urban Health Farms based on solid project management while focusing on financial forecasting and ROI determination, concept development, technology assessment, strategic material sourcing, bidding management and engineering.
Chief Operating Officer
Over the past 15 years, Reinier has gained a wide range of experience and knowledge from finance, risk management, and sales management positions. Before joining Urban Health Farms, Reinier was the Vice President of Horticulture at urban-gro where he was an integral part of the team to set-up overseas business activities focusing on indoor cannabis cultivation projects as well as food focused vertical farms. Prior to that, Reinier founded Consult2Grow, where he gained valuable expertise as a consultant for indoor and urban farming solutions.
He was also the Director of Business Consultancy at VEK Adviesgroep (a technical consultant to horticultural projects), the Business Development Manager at Philips City Farms, Managing Director at Skymax Technologies Kazakhstan and in various positions at Philips. During the last 8 years, Reinier has developed a deep interest and in-depth knowledge of the technical and operational side of indoor farms, which brings value to Urban Health Farms through structuring and operational procedures as well as being a solid sparring partner on the technical side.
As the farm manager and operator of the UHF Research & Demonstration Farm in Brussels, Selim Ozcelik will utilise the equipment, technology and knowledge of our growing partners within the UHF facilities. With a degree in electromechanics from Hogeschool Plantijn Boom, Selim brings with him a specialisation in automation and robotics, as well as a patient yet efficient work ethic.
Gaining experience in the family construction and real estate industry from a young age, Selim continued his industrious and productive foundation during his 8 years at the paper production company, Sofidel, the second largest paper producer in the EU. There, he spearheaded two new production lines that ran continuously year-round and consistently optimised production lines and output. He also spent a year in the US as a project manager in an engineering and design firm, and has worked with the Enterprise Europe Network (an initiative of the European Commission) for licensing and branding health-food supplements through one of his own businesses.
A native of Antwerp, Belgium, Selim speaks 4 languages and is certified in ISO, BRC, and ETI. With a long- standing passion for the automation and robotics side of the indoor vertical farming industry, Selim will be a vital part of establishing and leading new teams in our farm expansion and scaling up Urban Health Farms.
Roberto is a well-rounded finance professional that experience guiding startups and scale-ups in their growth with expertise in financial and fiscal support including support with personnel, contracts, insurance, organisational structure and process indicators. Unique among the UHF Team, Roberto has spent time in the aerospace industry working with the design and manufacturing of high-quality aircraft parts.
As Business Controller with Aerospace Bosman, Roberto managed over 100 employees, taking care of clear production-related KPIs and carrying out internal controls aimed at cost control, monitoring and analysis. Prior to that, Roberto was a Controller with Merkle Rotterdam, Fiat Chrysler, Slavenburg, and Deloitte. As Financial Director, he brings to the team an excellent track record of internal accounting activities and reporting.
Founder & Managing Director
Bernard Sleijster is a dynamic entrepreneur and consultant with a passion for sustainability and wellbeing. Bernard graduated from the Entrepreneurship College in Amsterdam and studied marketing. He started his career at an Amsterdam stock brokerage firm and spent about 15 years thereafter in the field of project finance. More recently he worked as a consultant for SMEs with the structuring and marketing of (new) business models and attracting finance, mainly in the field of clean technologies and renewable energy.
Bernard is a founder and the managing director of Urban Farms Capital and a key player in the creation of the marketing strategy and ongoing business development. Inspired by the idea of a cruelty-free world and with a strong passion for helping others, he has recently founded a charity for children in need.
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Jooseop Park is the agronomist and operator of the UHF Research & Demonstration Farms, where he will utilise the equipment, technology and knowledge of our growing partners. With an MSc in plant science from Wageningen University and Research, the number one ranked university in the field of Agriculture, Jooseop focused on plant physiology in greenhouses and vertical farms, with a major thesis on the effect of pre-harvest blue light treatment with different light intensities on plant morphology and postharvest chilling tolerance of purple and green basil and a minor thesis on the effects of partial supplemental interlighting systems on yield and electricity use efficiency in greenhouse horticulture. He also completed a BSc in Horticultural Science from Chong-Nam National University where he secured an academic achievement scholarship to fund his research and education.
His experience includes being the Rural Development Manager for the Korea International Cooperation Agency where he used sustainable development aid to improve the economic states of rural villages in Myanmar, and as a Research Assistant in the Postharvest Lab at Chong-Nam University, in addition to being a self-propelled artillery squad leader in the Republic of Korea Army, learning the value of leadership skills. With his experience in laboratory work and cultivation practices in vertical farms, greenhouses and traditional field-grown produce, Jooseop is skilled at analyzing ideas and problem solving with strong intercultural communication. Goal oriented and with an entrepreneurial spirit, in his spare time, Mr. Park conducts lectures for the South Korean Ministry of Agriculture.
Climate Control System
We use only the most state-of-the-art HVAC (heating, ventilation and air-conditioning) system. This essential component provides optimal plant growth by creating controlled air flow, temperature and humidity throughout our farms.
Mervyn comes to Urban Health Farms with nearly 20 years of management experience in leading FMCG corporations as well as in leading international, strategic and multi-disciplinary projects and teams. As Financial Director, he brings to the team an excellent track record of contributing to sustainable, top-line growth as well as bottom-line improvements, while simultaneously reducing risk and complexity.
Mervyn is a well-rounded finance executive with strategic background expertise in Financial Planning and Analysis, Revenue Management, Pricing, Forecasting, Internal Controls and Risk Management, and the support of high-performing teams. He is a true business partner who builds bridges across disciplines and is an excellent cultural connector.
With each of his past positions, Mervyn has progressively increased his level of responsibility and expertise, including being a Consultant with the caterer Pedevilla International, Head of Financial Planning and Analysis for HG International, VP of Commercial Finance with Elixxer, and a multitude of roles with British American Tobacco in Europe. In addition to his professional responsibilities, Mervyn has been a Trustee/Board Member with the British American Tobacco The Netherlands Pension Fund. Mervyn holds an MSc in Business Administration from the Erasmus University and we welcome his focus on results and relationship-driven environments and his strong record of achieving operational targets and managing strategic agendas.
Alexandre Van Deun
Solutions & Technology Advisor
Alexandre is the other half of the co-founding team of Urban Harvest and focuses his skills on the sales and financial strategy of the company. He gained solid experience working in the supply chain and treasury at the group level of one of the oldest multinational organisations in Belgium. Alexandre graduated as a Master’s in Business and Tax Law and KU Leuven, and subsequently earned a Master’s in General Management at the Vlerick Business School, focusing on an in-company project of the organic and M&A growth of Ter Keke, and an additional Master’s in Finance from ICHEC Business School.
As one of the two co-founders of Urban Harvest, Olivier has a passion for solving technical challenges. As an experienced business developer in the field of engineering consulting with a focus on IT, manufacturing and industry 4.0, Olivier has successfully grown multiple business units from scratch. With a Master’s of Science in industrial engineering specialised in electromechanics and intelligent mobility, and a postgraduate degree in entrepreneurial engineering from the KU Leuven in Belgium, Olivier continued his education with a Master’s in General Management at the Vlerick Business School with a thesis about the HMI trends and impacts for Toyota. In addition, Olivier developed a sustainable racing car for endurance championships with a team of engineering students to raise awareness around sustainable mobility technology.
Director Urban Health Farms Finance Luxembourg
Benoît has over 30 years of experience in the financial industry, with particular expertise in general management, advisory, compliance and risk management, internal controls, consultancy services, project management, financial business and auditing. With five different degrees from distinguished universities, Benoît is a creative and strategic thinker with a long track record of delivering results with a positive mind set and energy. Bringing excellent communication and management skills, Benoît’s deep and varied experience will be valuable in his role as Director to Urban Health Farms Finance.
Using a patented design, the production racks and hydroponic growing systems can be engineered in a very flexible way and can be organised in 15 vertical tiers to about 13 metres in height. This unique flexibility of designing an automated vertical farm allows for the most amount of produce grown in the smallest possible area.
Hydroponics is a highly efficient cultivation method widely considered more sustainable than soil farming because it applies less water and fertiliser. Nutrients can be applied in the right mix and concentration, allowing for faster growth using less resources. Hydroponics offers the unique ability to control the taste by applying specific nutrients into the plant’s growth environment.
Using cutting-edge, automated LED technology, we can tailor light wavelengths specifically to the needs of the plants grown in our farms. This unique technology provides unrivalled control over plant physiology while optimising growth and minimising power consumption. As a result, our advanced LED technology is much cheaper than other companies.
Another technological advantage is the use of custom developed bacteria for use in the hydroponics irrigation system. The bacteria are formed from natural ingredients and they work to promote plant growth, taste and nutrient content. These formulas are used instead of pesticides, fungicides and herbicides, with micro-organisms applied to prevent the growth of pathogens
Production Automation and Control Software
We use a custom-made production control software that can track and trace every plant to guarantee quality. To the benefit of Urban Health Farms and our customers, all of the parameters of production can now be carefully controlled, such as temperature, humidity, CO2, nutrient concentration, pH levels, airflow, light spectrum, intensity and interval. With big data comes big improvements, meaning we are also able to control water, electricity, space, capital and labour.
Managing Director Iberia
Andrés joins the Urban Health Farms team with over 20 years of experience in retail, logistics and as a trading executive and entrepreneur. This history led him to a renewed passion for sustainable business and economy, where he now is devoting his energy. With experience in general management of mid to large size companies, Andrés is an expert at the development of corporate culture, logistics implementation, business and product development, and business strategy for multiple startups. Before applying his skills to Urban Health Farms, Andrés was the CEO of the Smart Logistics Group, Chapter Chairman of the YPO Barcelona Chapter, and honorary former president of the Admirals Business Club network in Barcelona. .
Previous experience includes the role of Executive Logistics Manager in Walmart Mexico, a Board Member at Ethics Coffee, and the co-founder/CEO at both Smart Global Trading and Canastamex, both import/export companies within the food industry. With a diploma from Harvard University and an MBA from the Thunderbird School of Global Management, Andrés has a strong track record of achieving maximum benefits for shareholders with the best possible alternatives on transport companies, warehousing, brokers and insurances.
Jacques Bonnier began his career as a secondary school teacher at the Institute Sainte Marie Arlon and transferred into professional real estate and private equity funds in the early 1980s. Since then, Jacques has spent a distinguished career at such institutions as Kredietbank, Fortis Bank, Rabo Robeco and Fidupar.
Now, in his role as Director to Urban Health Farms Finance, Jacques brings a lot of expertise in directorships and corporate structures, including being an independent director. In addition to speaking French, Dutch, English and German, Jacques has a long history of financial planning, diagnostic process and in depth analysis in collaboration with external experts.
Head of Process & Product Engineering
Jan Corne is the Head of Process and Product Engineering at Urban Crop Solutions. He is in charge of the development and design of our growing solutions. This is mainly in terms of climate, ventilation, irrigation and lighting in collaboration with the biologists as well as the logistics side of the projects. Jan Corne graduated as civil engineer in Ghent (Belgium) and gained extensive experience as chief process and construction engineer of wood based panel construction plants around the world.
Frank van Bokhorst
Director of Food Sales & Distribution
Frank is an international sales and marketing expert with over twenty years of experience creating new platforms for food companies in Europe. With a strong marketing background in new product development, brand building and an entrepreneurial mindset, Frank likes to orient his work towards focusing on the 4 p’s: people, planet, profit and prophecy.
From his time as the Commercial Director for GRO Mushrooms, Frank gained valuable experience in scaling up a startup foodtech and food retail company, from rebranding and launching the concept to leading the team to the next level. His outstanding work led Frank to be nominated for an ABN AMRO Food Circular Award in 2018, a prestigious award acknowledging individuals working to accelerate the circular economy in food retail and production.
Filip Van Pottelbergh
Filip Van Pottelbergh joins the Advisory Board of Urban Health Farms with over 30 years of leadership experience, currently as Chief Executive Officer of Belgian family business Van Hoorebeke Timber and most recently as the Chief Operating Officer of some Belgian start-ups (e.g. StoryChief, Valpeo), where Filip built a solid foundation through his managing and coaching skills. Filip is adept at handling and managing all sides of a multinational business, from operational management to coaching sales & marketing teams, HR, financial and legal skills to running due diligence processes in M&A projects and to running board meetings. He is an expert at tactical strategy and company growth and helps the creative side of an organization translate their message into productivity and sales. He comes to us with impeccable recommendation due to his ability to drive an organization to the next level by connecting the missing links of strategic themes to operational themes and with a focus on execution. An expert coach at the highest level, Filip pushes his teams to maximise their full potential and lift an organization to meet their ambitions. In previous experiences, Filip also excels at building a company foundation by positioning and aligning the team to collaborate and communicate more efficiently, ensuring everyone on staff is achieving their unique purpose in line with the organization’s mission.
Prior to his recent involvement at some Belgian start-ups, he spent twenty-five years working for multinationals in various roles, mainly in sales, business development and strategic marketing roles as Business Unit/Change Manager at Fujifilm Corporation, as European Marketing & New Product Development Director and Sales Director at Brady Corporation, as Country Manager for Veeder-Root (part of Danaher Corporation). He was involved in the real estate expansion of McDonald’s in Belgium in the nineties and started his career as Country Manager for MPSI Systems, where he built up his first experience in real estate as location analysis expert. Proficient in five languages, Filip holds a Masters in Commercial and Financial Sciences and an Advance Management Program (AMP) from Vlerick Business School. Filip is also a Certified Director from Guberna (Belgian Institute of Directors), is non-executive Board Member of Belgian consultancy company Forte, Business Mentor at KBC Start.it, Member of the Advisory Board of Etion (Flemish Entrepreneurs Association) and Program Director Business Management Bruges Business School Vives.
Dr. Khalid Salim
As a licensed medical doctor with years of clinical experience in occupational health, psychiatry and the pharmaceutical industry, Dr. Khalid Salim will help guide Urban Health Farms’ products to meet the highest of health standards. With his background as a medical consultant for many international companies and published researcher in the field of cannabinoid medicine, Dr. Salim brings with him extensive experience understanding how science and medicine can positively impact our health, both physically and mentally. As a respected leader in his field, Dr. Salim has coordinated many events, meetings, and symposiums with key opinion leaders to better promote and understand medicine and how best to communicate that to the public. With a degree from the Medical School of Hannover in Germany, and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Luther College (USA), Dr. Salim is an enthusiastic supporter of controlled environment agriculture and the medical reasons to support innovations in this field.
With proficiency in three languages and an impressive working knowledge of Luxembourg corporate law, Miss Izzate Zeymoussi is an important addition to the Urban Health Farms team with her experience in corporate, banking and financial law. Izzate holds a Master of Business Law from the University of Metz and has taken an Oath and Final Exam with the Luxembourg Bar Registration. As the head of the legal department with Initium Corporate Services, she has wide experience with the fine print of legal regulations, contracts and agreements, and is proficient at setting up (unregulated) corporate entities and preparing shareholders meetings.
Bernard Coupez is a globally recognised financial expert and analyst who is regularly consulted by the European Commission, the European Security Markets Authority, and the Autorité des Marchés Financiers (the French Markets Regulator – AMF). He is the Chairman of the Financial Skills Certification Board and was a member of the AMF’s Board, and Vice-Chairman of the AMF’s Clearing, Custody and Securities Settlement Consultative Committee. Recently, he became Managing Director (in charge of Advocacy) for the CFA Institute and is based in their new office in Paris.
Prior to working for the French Markets Regulator, he spent twenty years at the French bank BNP Paribas in various key regulatory and operational capacities. During that time, he was Head of Equity Research, Head of Relationship brokers and Director of Regulatory Affairs where he represented the financial industry in various international, European and national organizations. He has chaired the French Society of Financial Analysts, sat in the Executive Committee of the European Federation of Associations of Financial Analysts and was a member of the International Advisory Board of Euronext and later NYSE-Euronext. Bernard was a member of the AMF Retail Investors Consultative Committee as the Chairman of the BNP Paribas Group’s Employee Shareholders’ Association.
In recent years, Bernard has been a consultant on financial regulatory issues, taught Finance and Regulation and conducted academic research on subjects including inter alia EU, French regulation, supervision of the financial industry, European public affairs in finance, financial and banking regulation for several universities/schools, including the Paris Centre Economics and Law at Paris II Pantheon AssasUniversity. Bernard holds a master’s in economics from the University of Louvain.
Rising through the ranks of several internationally acclaimed financial organizations, Ernest Ouwerkerk comes to Urban Health Farms as an expert in facilitating private equity transactions in addition to structuring, sourcing, and raising capital with his extensive global network. With over 25 years of experience in finance, investment services, operational compliance, fundraising and investment analysis, Ernest is a valuable addition to the Urban Health Farms team.
He brings with him specific experience in managing the investment vehicles of companies specialising in the natural resource industries and as a founder of a company providing non-executive directorships. Ernest holds a CAIA designation after passing both levels of the Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst program and a business degree in Financial Services from Amsterdam Academy.
Director Urban Farms Capital
Johan comes to Urban Health Farms with over 15 years of experience in financial markets, specialising in analysing and strategising the G10 markets. Johan has solid leadership skills and a strong academic background, with a Master of Economics degree from the University of Copenhagen and a degree from Universita Ca Foscari in Italy with a focus on financial econometrics.
Johan has extensive experience motivating and educating a sales force and communicating with the media and business partners, choosing to apply an analytical approach with clear communication. In addition to his vast experience creating fundamental, risk and trading models applicable across asset classes using his expertise in programming and financial software, Johan brings great empathy and positive mind set to our team.
Mark holds a degree in Environmental Diagnostics, with a postgraduate specialism in Renewable Energy Systems Technology from Cranfield University and Loughborough University respectively. He also earned a degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Malta and first joined IEMA in 2005.
On the financial side of his qualifications, Mark also boasts a Certificate in Maltese Financial Regulation and an International Certificate in Wealth and Investment Management. Since 2002, Mark has worked in a wide range of advanced roles, putting forth his expertise to Process Engineering, Management, Environmental Consulting, PR, Operations, and C-Level Director positions.
Throughout this time, Mark has demonstrated impressive abilities when working with investment and operational strategies, as well as project management and set-ups, especially where the environment and eco-innovation are involved. Mark’s knowledge and expertise are well sought after, being brought in as a lecturer at the Institute of Health & Safety, the Institute of Legal Studies, and the Malta Excellence Consulting Bureau. As well as this, the EU Commission Executive Agency for Competitiveness and Innovation has brought him on as an expert in the past.
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Jean Pierre Coene
Chief Project Manager
Jean-Pierre received his Bachelor’s degree in mechanical/electrical engineering at HoGent (Belgium). He has significant experience with project management in technical environments in various industries and he is responsible for the project planning and management at Urban Crop Solutions.
CTO Plant Research
Dr. Oscar Navarrete received his PhD in Plant genetics at University Gent (Belgium) after he graduated as Master in Plant Science in Quito (Equator). Oscar is now the Chief scientist at Urban Crop Solutions. Together with his team he has developed and validated more than 200 plant recipes that contain proprietary information about the most optimal growth conditions for plants such as light spectrum, light intensity, photo period, nutrient composition and delivery, temperature, humidity, air pressure, etc.
CEO & Investor
Tom Debusschere has been the CEO of Urban Crop Solutions since May 2019. He is also one of the investors of the series A capital round in 2019. Tom has more than 10 years of proven experience as CEO in global industrial public companies, such as Deceuninck (Euronext Brussel – tickercode: DECB) and Balta (Euronext Brussel – tickercode: BALTA) where he realised an IPO in 2017. Tom’s ambition with Urban Crop Solution is to become the global market leader for Indoor Farming Solutions.
Founder & Chairman
Frederic Bulcaen is the other co-founder of Urban Crop Solutions. He has a master degree in General Economics and Corporate Finance from Vlerick Business School (Belgium) and has gained experience as Certified Public Accountant (Auditor) at Arthur Andersen and Deloitte. In 2010 Frederic realised a MBO at Typhoon, an international cleantech company specialised in engineered solution in the field of air technology (industrial ventilation, pneumatic transport and industrial dedusting).
Over the years Frederic is and was also a business angel, enabling and assisting the launch of promising start-ups such as Trendwolves (marketing and communication office) and Citymesh (wireless network solutions).
Founder & CTO
Maarten Vandecruys is one of the co-founders and CTO of Urban Crop Solutions. After completing his Master in Business Management and Enterprise (Brussel – Belgium), in 2014 he also achieved a Master in General Management at Vlerick Business School (Belgium). Through extracurricular activities and projects, he executed market research and marketing for several Flemish organisations and companies.
Since 2012 he has conducted extensive research on the subject of urban agriculture and established contact with knowledgeable parties in the field. In addition, Maarten has been initially testing various urban farming approaches including aquaponics, hydroponics, rooftop hydroponic farming, rooftop greenhouse farming and aeroponics.
Miguel Sánchez de Pedro
Miguel is a senior financial professional with a 50yr+ banking expertise, and an international career as an adviser to the World Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, International Finance Corporation, Inter-American Development Bank and the EU as well as government institutions and the private sector in over 20 developing countries.
Miguel is a Senior Partner and founder of OxValue Advisers SL, a management consulting firm, specialising in advisory services to fintech startup ventures, small and medium enterprises, and financial intermediaries. Advisory undertakings include hands on fintech startups institutional building, business strategy formulation, financial planning and due diligence, business valuations, equity investments, corporate restructuring, banking regulations, corporate finance, fundraising and privatisations.
Miguel holds a Degree in Business Administration and former Certified Chartered Accountant (1978 to 2012). His specialisations include finance, banking, business strategy and development and business proof of concept.
Anthony’s impressive career spans over four decades as a recognised expert in his field and a passionate environmentalist. Currently an Associate Professor in the Division of Environmental Management and Planning, Institute of Earth Systems, at the University of Malta and an Adjunct Associate Professor at James Madison University, USA, Anthony is also Director of the Euro-Mediterranean Centre on Insular Coastal Dynamics (ICoD) pertaining to the Council of Europe Open Partial Agreement on Major Natural and Technological Hazards. Anthony has been Vice-President of the QualityCoast Award since 2014, a programme of the Coastal & Marine Union (EUCC) and partly funded by the European Commission.
He is also a coordinator for the development of a curriculum for a Master’s in Applied Earth Systems and a coordinator for a Master’s in Environmental Management and Planning (MEMP), Institute of Earth Systems, at the University of Malta. He is also currently a representative in MEDCOAST and the Director of ICoD for over twenty years. He qualified in biological and environmental management-related sciences, is experienced in administration, policy-making, project development and management of human, physical and financial resources. Anthony also has excellent international contacts, public relations, organisational and interpersonal skills. He has been a (co)writer on books, scientific papers, reports and other publications on the topics of the environment and natural preservation.
Business Development Manager
Luciano joins the team with more than 15 years’ experience as a Financial Advisor, European Representative, and Business Development Manager for numerous international companies. His experience includes the identification and selection of assets for investment funds, private equity firms, and utility companies based in Europe and the USA.
His broad experience in projects and financing will help Urban Farms Capital to not only make the right contacts in Italy, but across Europe in order to source, develop, and finance farms, as well as to build a distribution infrastructure.
Communications & Public Relations Manager
Danielle is the public relations lead for Urban Health Farms and has over 15 years experience in environmental communications. Joining the team with a strong background in both communications and science, Danielle holds a Master’s of Science in Forest Hydrology from Oregon State University and a Bachelor’s of Science in Natural Resource Studies from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. As a copywriter specialising in communications for environmental and green businesses, Danielle has worked for clients all over the world and is an expert at creating and managing content to reflect sustainability goals and while successfully communicating those messages to the public.
Business Development Director
Steffen has strong analytical skills and is an expert in strategic development, networking and communication with over 17 years of experience in the financial world. He brings with him a depth of experience in the financial industry from his years as a Client Advisor with UBS, DJE Kapital AG and Citigroup.
As the Portfolio Manager & Director for KB Asset Management for the last four years, Steffen had the important role to identify and sign new clients, determining the best investment strategy for each individual customer and was responsible for managing customer portfolios. Steffen earned a degree as a Certified Banker and has used that education and his vast experience to set up Sanderz Investments Ltd, as a vehicle for his personal worldwide investments, which include his partnership with Urban Farms Capital and Urban Health Farms.