In the next phase of the project, she teamed up with the company Plant-e to create a Living Light that harvests its energy through the photosynthetic process of plants. The light can be activated by human touch, making people part of the energy cycle and experience of generating electricity. “The Living Light is really about the cooperation between nature and man,” explains Van Oers. “If you take more care of your plant, it will give you more energy and light. It has a magical feel to it.”
The Living Light is part of a larger philosophy. “It’s about changing perspectives on things like pollution and plants. I want to show how you can clean polluted water and at the same time generate energy. And I want to change the meaning of plants. People look at them as decorative items, but they can actually generate electricity.” She thinks that plants and micro-organisms will be the power plants of the future. “Rotterdam is currently planning to build floating homes in former harbor districts,” she continues. “Imagine they could be self-sufficient by generating energy from the water!”
Although Van Oers still sees these types of ideas as future fantasies, she and her team are working on the design of a public park in Rotterdam in which plant-based lighting technology will be a central element. That’s right, traditional lighting sources like lamp posts will be absent. The park will have a magical interactive experience factor similar to the Living Light, with lights turning on as you walk through it. Still in development in collaboration with the urban authorities, the park is planned to be realized in 2018.
To turn her ideas into reality, Van Oers participated in Let it Grow, an incubation programme that provides 10.000 EUR in funding (without taking equity), guidance and expertise for young companies that are working with flowers and plants in new ways, in order to improve the lives of people living in cities. Van Oers: “With Let it Grow’s support, we could make huge steps in professionalizing our project and create a viable business model.”
Let it Grow is accepting new applicants for their 2017-2018 Incubation Programme. Do you work with plants or flowers? This might be your chance to boost your startup. Apply for a chance to get €10,000 funding, 5 months training, dedicated mentorship and much more. Submit before 10 September 2017: letitgrow.org/apply
Also, the plant-powered Living Light is in the final stage of development and will hopefully be in production by the end of the year. Pre-orders are accepted!