LeafGenius: Nanotech that takes the guesswork out of gardening
Waterloo startup founder invents a nanotech fertilizer that delivers moisture, nutrients and oxygen directly to roots at the right time
Waterloo startup founder invents a nanotech fertilizer that delivers moisture, nutrients and oxygen directly to roots at the right timeBy Sabrina Hutchison Office of Research
Sonya Wach has always been fascinated with how nanotechnology is used to make things better.
As part of a Nanotechnology Engineering fourth-year project at the University of Waterloo, she investigated how to apply that principle to agriculture and LeafGenius, a revolutionary plant care solution employing nanotechnology, was born.
“You often see nanotechnology used to improve fields like medicine, but I wanted to use it in a completely new way – in a field that hadn’t been explored yet,” says Wach, founder and CEO of the startup LeafGenius. “I knew I could make nutrient delivery to plants better and, by using nanotechnology, we’re elevating the level of care gardeners can give their plants with less work and time.”
LeafGenius is an all-encompassing fertilizer that delivers moisture, nutrients, and oxygen directly to a plant’s roots exactly when needed. Packaging the moisture and additives in nanotechnology allows the plant to draw from it when needed, preventing over watering and excess feeding. The innovative product also frees up time for gardeners since nanotechnology creates a slow release system that provides water and nutrients to plants in an effective way.
A $60,000 AC JumpStart – University of Waterloo award helped Wach with the technical and business development needed to launch LeafGenius. Funded by FedDev Ontario and the University of Waterloo, AC JumpStart is delivered through the Accelerator Centre and provides early stage technology startups with the seed capital, mentorship, and market-readiness tools needed to build a business in today’s knowledge economy.
LeafGenius is also part of Velocity, a leading University of Waterloo entrepreneurship program which is also the largest free startup incubator in the world.
The LeafGenius product is biodegradable and uses components approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Wach is working with local and national greenhouses to distribute test samples this spring and hopes to launch the product to market later in the year. She is also developing a complementary smartphone app with gardening advice, product tips, and notifications for home gardeners using LeafGenius.