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..
Pablo Oyanguren Cornell
Pablo is a highly driven financial executive and entrepreneur, with a strong background and experience in increasing company growth and providing strategic financial insight. Pablo has experience in finance and in 2 large multinational companies. Unilever Foods Division where he was the CFO for the Andean Region (Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia), and Syngenta (largest agriculture company in the world) where he was CFO for the North Latin American Territory.
His understanding of food retail and production perspective gives Pablo the overall perspective of the indoor vertical farms’ opportunity. Between 2005 and 2014 he led the financial growth across North Latin America for Syngenta, innovators in sustainable agriculture solutions. He developed and implemented business strategies including international market expansion, merger integration, and divestments.
Pablo was responsible for significant market share growth in certain markets, built up a strong Finance team and delivered substantial tax benefits. Bringing more than 25 years’ successful experience in financial markets to the Urban Farms team; he has a keen ability to assess key market opportunities and create both short and long term financial targets and international growth strategies.
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.
FounderDirector of Investor Relations & Business Development
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.
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.
Director Urban Health Farms Finance Luxembourg
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.
Investment & Business Development Manager
Claudio holds a degree in Environmental Engineering and a master’s degree in Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency from the Polytechnic of Milan. He also holds an MBA Degree from IE Business School in Madrid and is a CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) Level III. Claudio is also a Certified Financial Modelling & Valuation Analyst (FMVA) ® from CFI (Corporate Finance Institution).
Claudio has more than 10 years of experience in strategic business development and consulting for the Power & Utility industry, especially in Renewable Energy. He has worked with the international renewable energy consulting company, Ecofys, and started up his own consulting business. In addition to that, he also led the projects of Italian development companies. Claudio has advised public authorities on roadmaps to sustainability and has extensive expertise in due diligence processes for multi-MW power plants, focusing on the identification and evaluation of the most interesting projects and companies operating in the cleantech industry.
He has spent part of his career as a chartered member of the Order of Engineers of Milan and as a member of the Italian Environmental Engineers Association (AIAT). He has also taught Wind Energy topics at the Master RIDEF of the Polytechnic of Milan.
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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.
Marketing Manager & Assistant to the Management
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.
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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.
After studying Higher European Studies at The Hague University, Fabian worked in different marketing and sales roles, applying his multilingual capacities to connect and create global networks. In his former positions, he proved to be an exceptional player in pushing companies to the next level.
He has a big passion for clean technologies and the environment and has been active in this industry since 2013. His speciality is sales and account management. He locates or proposes potential business deals by contacting potential partners, as well as discovering and exploring opportunities.
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.
Climate Control System
One of our most defining technologies is our Climate Control System. This state-of-the-art HVAC (heating, ventilation and air-conditioning) system truly sets us apart from all our competitors and is the most advanced and effective HVAC system in the vertical farming industry. Urban Crop Solutions partner company, Typhoon, has 60 years of expertise in industrial solutions, customised to meet specific requirements, like in vertical farming. Through these partnerships, we excel at the essential components of optimal plant growth by creating controlled air flow, temperature and humidity throughout our farms.
Production Automation and Control Software
Urban Crop Solutions has developed and implemented 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. Made-to-order produce can be grown different colours, sizes, shapes, tastes and with different nutrient contents.
We will use custom-developed bacteria in the hydroponics system, developed by Urban Crop Solutions together with several universities and corporate partners. 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.
Through our incredibly advanced supply chain in Belgium we can develop and manufacture cutting-edge automated and LED technology with wavelengths tailored specifically to the needs of plants. This unique technology provides unrivalled control over plant physiology, optimises growth, and minimises power consumption. As a result, our advanced LED technology is much cheaper than other companies.
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 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.