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Yusuf Hamied Department of Chemistry

The Santander X award ceremony.

Lambda Agri with Tinie Tempah, Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill, Monica Saavedra and Mike Regnier

A crop yield improvement technology company, embedded in Professor Dominic Wright’s research group, has been awarded a Santander X prize.

Lambda Agri has won second place in the start-ups category for the Santander X UK awards 2023. The startup is embedded into Professor Dominic Wright’s group, where they co-develop methods to improve the amount of sunlight that plants absorb.

Dr Monica Saavedra, the chief technology officer and co-founder of Lambda Agri, said for Santander X: “Today, the proportion of photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) for plants, i.e. red light, is increased via artificial lighting - but electricity is costly. Lambda’s diffusive, red emitting spray paint for greenhouse panels requires no electricity and can increase crop yields by circa 9%.”

Lambda Agri develops advanced materials to convert ultraviolet light to lower-energy red light. This is beneficial for the farming industry since crops use lower-energy light for photosynthesis, and high-energy light is wasted. Currently, additional red light can be achieved using artificial lighting; however, Lambda Agri’s new technology increases red light passively. They synthesize molecules in the labs at the chemistry department, which can be coated onto glass and used in industrial greenhouses to increase the amount of useful light for growing plants.

The Santander X annual entrepreneurship awards is one of the UK's largest business pitching competitions for student and graduate businesses, supporting early-stage entrepreneurs.

You can find out more about the research underpinning Lambda Agri's technology on page 20 of the Spring 2023 Chem@Cam (Issue 66), which also features the work of Rosa Mueller, who has been playing a key role in the research.