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About Us

Growspec is a pioneer in the commercial and industrial application of Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA), agritech and intelligent planting technologies.
We utilise the latest technology with systems developed for a wide and diverse range of requirements,
including medicinal plants, vegetables, fruits, flowers, and seedlings.

In partnership with our suppliers, we are constantly innovating and developing hardware and software for integrated planting technology, artificial climate control, planting management control, and associated renewable energy systems.

Growspec delivers systems that provide you with the ability to grow a comprehensive range of products.

We deliver systems that encompass all budgets, whether AMAS container farms, AMAS BioCube units through to our AMAS compact units. In addition we offer lighting and renewable energy systems direct from our suppliers.

We can supply almost anywhere in the world. We create competitive products with an emphasis on quality and commerciality.

As a complete agritech solutions provider, we also provide renewable energy as well as finance/funding options.

We bring cost-effective agritech products and services to market that will shape the future of farming.

Meet the Team

Paul Keightley
Managing Director

Paul started his working life as an Accountant and in Financial Director roles. He became a highly successful Managing Director with extensive sales experience gained from building one of the largest direct sales forces and agency networks in the UK for energy. He had a number of companies in the utility industries including co-owning his own gas supply company.

Paul managed, or was Chairman of, several successful companies in the utility market place for over 25 years, dealing with multinational companies at Director level. He also appeared on a BBC1 TV prime time consumer programme as an independent advisor on energy savings and energy conservation.

During that time, Paul’s company, along with a leading water supply company, worked on a 4-year contract with the Ministry of Defence to identify savings on water usage at military bases in the South of England, resulting in significant annual savings to the MoD, mainly through leak detection and repair. Paul has been involved with vertical farming technology for over 4 years as well as working as an independent business mentor and consultant.

Reinier Donkersloot
Project & Technical Manager

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 Growspec through structuring and operational procedures as well as being a solid sparring partner on the technical side.

Bernardus Sleijster
Vertical Farm Expert

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 co-founder and the managing director of Urban Health Farms 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.

Mark Raper
Installations

Mark leads the Growspec Limited installation team installing GrowSpec systems, this includes the delivery, installation, and commissioning of each solution. Mark is a time served electrical engineer and he and his team have successfully delivered multiple vertical farms and other horticultural projects across the UK and Europe.

Mark qualified as a registered electrician in 1995. 16/17/18th edition BS7671 and as a solar, battery designer and installer. He is proficient in PLC and control systems, and is Priva Blue ID qualified and has over 8 years’ experience of installing vertical farming solutions.

Jeremy Darby
Agronomist

Having gained a BSc. Hons. In Agricultural Sciences and an MSc. In Crop Physiology In the UK, Jeremy was involved in a variety of agricultural developments in Papua New Guinea in the 1980’s.

From 1989 to 2001, he was the Managing Director of Darby Brothers Farms Limited, involved in soft fruit production and plant propagation. Jeremy handled the financial, sales and production planning management, and the research and development.

Jeremy then took over the stock control of Darby Nursery Stock Limited overseeing crop planning, staff training and green waste management. Since then, he has had his own worldwide independent horticultural business consultancy, advising on, inter alia, berry production, farming systems, development planning for fruit and vegetable growers and nursery stock production.

In his farming and crop advisory role, he has grower clients in the UK, Ukraine, Moldova, China, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Georgia, Turkey, Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, UAE, Africa, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Mexico. He specialises in the substrate culture of soft fruits, berries and other crops for fruit production, nursery stock management and breeding programme advice.

Jeremy lectures on horticulture at the College of West Anglia on a part-time basis, and is a certification programmer and auditor for ISO 14001.

Timothy Morton
Agronomist

Tim has enjoyed an extensive career in plant research and development and has been involved in numerous consulting projects on improving plant growing techniques and farming.

Tim ran the family farming business from 1980 to 2007, changing a traditional mixed cropping farm into a predominantly fruit business growing deciduous tree fruit apples and soft fruit with modernisation of apple and stone fruit operations, intensity new plantings of orchards on dwarfing rootstocks and multi row bed systems, and development of soft fruit business to supply high quality fresh produce.

He entered into a partnership to acquire two substantial glasshouse units growing strawberries in a hydroponic system. The business continued its development on all sides to become the largest glasshouse UK unit producing out of season strawberries.

From 2007 to 2017, Tim joined the huge Total Produce plc corporation as the head of their strawberry and soft fruit research and development program, developing the business “downstream” breeding to the commercialization of varieties worldwide with operations/trials in the UK, Israel, Egypt, Kenya, SA, Australia, Mexico, and the USA.

More recently, Tim has undertaken advisory and consultancy assignments worldwide in farming practices and has experience throughout Europe, Egypt, the USA, Africa and South Africa.

John Sticha
Plant Scientist

John interned in Dr Gould’s cancer research laboratory at the University of Wisconsin K4 Cancer Research Tower. He achieved his degree as a Biotechnology Laboratory Scientist and worked at “Knight Hollow Nursery”, an aseptic micro-cultivar laboratory of ornamental plant varieties, as their laboratory manager.

As an agricultural research scientist, he stays involved with innovative agriculture technologies and in 2015, founded “Living Water Farms (LWF) LLC” in central Florida. This is a research and development company and has been involved with Crate to Plate in London, and Fresh Produce Kings in Bangkok.

John has been the lead scientist and technology expert building state-of-the-art agriculture facilities in urban environments. He minimised production waste by offering excess to food pantries and investigated plant-based packaging to lower their carbon footprint.

John has over 20 years’ experience as a plant scientist and is very enthusiastic about the “Farm to Table” movement, believing that today’s competitive agricultural operations will blend technologies of controlled environments, aeroponics, hydroponics, advancements in LED lighting, water management, and non-toxic pest control with traditional agriculture to grow healthier, nutritious, and accessible products.

Mark Chamberlain
Energy Solutions Expert

Spending his career in clean power generation Mark has a huge experience with a wide variety of technologies from Wind Turbines and solar panels to anaerobic digesters and battery storage solutions.

Mark is a founding member of Green Power Hire, a company specialising in micro grid solutions in the construction and hire markets.

With his extensive background in both renewables and energy storage his advice helps guide our customers to the most suitable, low cost, reliable and sustainable energy generation solution for their project.

John Rowley
Renewable Energy Specialist

Working through the ranks of Colgate Palmolive, Playtex & Pretty Polly John has a vast experience in Sales & Marketing with the latter 2 positions as a main board director. John is the founder of ICUK Limited a specialist company in sourcing bespoke products from China.

He has more than 25 years trading out of China and has over 12 years’ experience in renewable energy, and with the explosion in energy costs and the paramount importance of Solar energy we are now at the forefront in the development of PV Solar Equipment.

During the past 24 months John has seen major changes in solar equipment which has resulted in that we are able to offer the very best in advance technology for Solar Panels, Solar Inverters, Solar Batteries and Solar Rack & Rail kit. This combined with the latest EV Charging equipment has resulted in a total package of renewable energy product offerings available to Growspec Limited.

Alan Edginton
Marketing Strategy

Alan Edginton is a marketing professional, with over 30 years of marketing knowledge and experience gained from working within a variety of sectors including finance, health and Agritech.

During this time, he has held a variety of roles including business owner with his own digital marketing agency, freelance Consultant through to Chief Marketing Officer.

Over the years, Alan has worked with a range of companies from startups, SME’s through to multinational organisations, delivering a comprehensive range of marketing services and strategies.

Alan’s marketing experience incorporates a wide and diverse range of marketing elements including SEO, SEM, PPC, digital marketing through to social media, organic and paid options.

Alan has been involved in the vertical farming / agritech sector for over 4 years, initially with Greenbuild Systems, a vertical farm solutions company.

Hesham Ahmady
Fresh Produce Expert

Hesham is an innovative Fresh Produce Business Development Expert with experience gained over 20 years in different business-related aspects including the creation and implementation of business strategies to open new markets for food resale.

He has been able to achieve sales growth, and direct and enhance commercial operations, as well as the management and expansion of key clients’ relationships to anticipate their requirements and to maximise business opportunities in fresh food supply markets.

Hesham is experienced in people management and team leadership with strong communication and negotiation skills built over a career in direct sales, and marketing strategy.

Meet the Advisors

Christopher Nelson

Chris has worked in the farming industry for over 40 years. He initially worked for leading manufacturers of fresh produce before venturing out with his own consultancy. His client portfolio has included M&S, Tesco, Morrisons and Asda, and many other household names.

Chris is renowned for his expertise in crop husbandry. His specialist knowledge of multi-level growing systems, glasshouse design, LED lighting systems, disease prevention, pest control and irrigation has meant that his clients have achieved success in the harshest of growing environments. In addition to crop knowledge, Chris has proven management skills and a consistent record of success. An experienced HACCP Level 4 team leader, he has provided training on Quality Assurance and helped to set industry standards on product quality.

Chris was a founder director of Zero Carbon Farms Ltd, along with the world-renowned chef Michel Roux and others. The company operates under the trading style of Growing Underground. Using hydroponic and LED technology that is monitored using bespoke software, the company cultivates herbs and salad leaves in its 528 square metre subterranean farm located in a former air raid shelter 33 metres below Clapham High Street in London.

Samantha Stevens

Sam is a highly qualified Horticultural Consultant with extensive experience in the agricultural and fresh produce industry. She is an Interim Consultant with a focus on supporting both start-up and innovative agricultural businesses around the world. Most significantly, she is a licensed Cannabis Master Grower and Certified GMP (General Medical Practice) Auditor and Cannabis Compliance Officer, CBD Hemp and EU Regulation Biomass trials and harvest, both indoor and field grown.

Sam’s knowledge has been gained building horticulture and farming operations from the ground up and developing existing businesses through the implementation of new processes,

Sustainable practices and regenerative agriculture. She has been instrumental in obtaining relevant licenses for a number of pharmaceutical companies.

Her extensive expertise extends to fresh produce and horticulture, tissue culture, cloning and breeding, hi-tech greenhouse, and field crop, and is also concerned with conservation and agriculture regeneration. She has had involvement in carbon neutral projects and has product knowledge of chillies, avocados, ginger, peppers, tomatoes, melons, beans, cucumbers, spring greens, leeks, calabrese, potatoes, bell peppers, sweet potatoes, beetroot, chard, lettuce and herbs, daffodils, carnations, anemones, eco-sourced plants, trees, and shrubs.

Jason Hawkins-Row

Jason is the CEO and Founder of Aponic Ltd. He started his career as an aviation design engineer. When he decided a career change was the right thing move, he taught himself to programme computers and worked all over the world. At the same time, he also designed and installed rainwater harvesting systems, water filtering equipment and large indoor fish ponds for airports in many countries.

Over the last 12 years, Jason has designed a multi-award-winning vertical aeroponic farming system working with large research companies and fresh produce farmers. This system has recently been advanced into a super-efficient, low capital farming system that can be utilised in urban and rural farms globally.

Jason is also developing recognised courses for aeroponic farmers and industry professionals to help to plug the skills gap that blights the industry.

Nina Trubanova

Nina is an industry professional with extensive knowledge of plant science and genetics, nutritional and environmental requirements, integrated pest management, experimental design, scientific methods, statistical and sequencing data analysis, production facility, and laboratory design and management.

Nina has worked for over 15 years in the UK, Czech Republic, and Spain in R&D and plant production. A specialist in growing cannabis for medicinal applications and food crops, she has been focused on controlled-environment agriculture (CEA) and hydroponics, as well as the industrial-scale alcohol extraction and post-processing of cannabinoids.

She is utilising her extensive experience in designing and testing fertilizers and equipment for their dosing and mixing, horticultural lighting (HID and LED), environmental controllers, and various aeroponic and hydroponic production systems, including vertical farming systems, to educate and advise on various aspects of plant production systems in CEA. Recently, she has been collaborating with various academic and industry partners on projects focusing on innovations, sustainability, and circular economy.

Laura Cammarisano

Laura is a scientist postdoc at Leibniz – Institute of Vegetable and Ornamental Crops (IGZ). Her first exposure to plant science was in 2014 when she did her first lab internship, thanks to Erasmus scholarship, in the Bioscience lab at Cardiff University (UK) and had the opportunity to contribute to different works to achieve a wide range of techniques used in plant science.

She obtained her bachelor’s degree in biology at “Università della Calabria” (Italy), and in 2016 she won an Aberystwyth University (UK) scholarship of 3 years to perform her PhD studies at the same university. Her PhD project was “Illuminating future food production; the impacts of tunable artificial lighting on food crop biology and productivity” with the aim of optimising red lettuce growth and quality in a completely controlled environment with the sole use of LED lights, investigating aspects of lighting including irradiance, spectral quality, duration and time of application.

After completing the PhD practical work and during the writing-up period, she started working at Leibniz – IGZ in the HORTSYS.2 – Controlled environment horticultural systems group where she studies plant response to light in vertical production systems aiming at monitoring and tailoring early plant stress through the use of non-destructive techniques. For the last 3 years, Laura has volunteered at the Association for Vertical Farming (AVF).

Members of the UK team are all experienced within the vertical farming sector as well as having operated at senior levels within a diverse range of industries from energy systems, through construction to business development, funding, and finance.

The products are manufactured to ISO 9001 certification and comply with the following certifications:

·         ETL – Electrical Testing Laboratories

·         UL – Underwriter Laboratories

·         CE Certification – European Conformity

·         TUV – Technical Inspection certified

·         FCC – Safe Levels of Radiation (RF Outputs etc.)

·         BIS – Bureau of International Standards

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