StartLife warmly welcomes B-Mex, a StartLife startup and WUR spin-off, into the startup offices at Plus Ultra II. The company is specialized in making crop models that provide growers and farmers with valuable insights and help optimize their crop yield. The company moved to Wageningen Campus to be closely to connected to its ecosystem and be close to talents of Wageningen University & Research.

After an academic career of 23 years in research and modelling at Wageningen University & Research, crop physiologist dr. Fokke Buwalda decided to turn his many and highly cited papers about crop models into practical tools for growers and farmers. At the end of 2013 he started B-Mex, a service provider aimed at enabling greenhouse growers to apply scientific simulation models to maximize yields, lower spoilage and reduce costs.

As a spin-out of Wageningen UR Greenhouse Horticulture, Fokke had, and still has, access to cutting edge scientific knowledge and models. In 2015, Biosystems Engineer Peter van Beveren joined the team, whereas Plant Scientist and modeler Jeroen Boonekamp joined forces with B-Mex in 2019.

Today, B-Mex serves growers of cut flowers, pot plants and greenhouse vegetables. And recently, simulation models for potato, onion and soil conditions were added to the B-Mex portfolio.

A Chrystal ball for growers and farmersPotatoes-and-Gerberas

For many growers it’s very difficult to predict their yields as they still rely on gut feeling and best practices. But mathematical models can in fact predict the effect of changes in growing conditions really accurately, Fokke explains. With a laugh Fokke says, “We are pretty much offering a Chrystal ball to growers and farmers. But one that utilizes cutting-edge science and mathematics.”

“Mathematical models can accurately predict the effect of changes in growing conditions.“

“Take Gerbera daisies, for example. It’s one of the five most popular plants in the world. If a grower wants to have as many Gerberas as possible, let’s say for Valentine’s day or Mother’s day, he needs to know three months in advance what needs to be done today to optimize future yields. Our mathematical and computational methods provide the grower the with the insight needed to achieve the best results.”

Another example are potatoes. They don’t need to reach full maturation before harvest. On the contrary, potatoes are often grown for a specific size. “A potato farmer needs to know when it’s time to kill the foliage to stop the further growth of its potatoes. With our models and tools we can accurately predict when it’s time for the farmer to start killing the foliage of his potato plants.”

Scaling up the business

Fokke says, “In all fairness, as a seasoned academic it took me some time to develop my entrepreneurial skills. I feel confident now that the B-Mex team will take the company to the next level though. And I am as much grateful for the valuable support StartLife has provided me in the past as for the opportunity they have provided us now to move into the startup offices at Plus Ultra 2 and become an integral part of the innovation community here at Wageningen Campus.”

“Our business is going well and also the future is looking bright. In the coming months, we expect to recruit several new employees. And in the next few years, we also expect a considerate increase in the number of clients. Which will eventually lead to the recruitment of more talents.” It’s for this very reason that the B-Mex team moved their company to Wageningen Campus.

Agrifood innovation powerhouse

“I strongly believe that having our business situated in the heart of the agrifood innovation community will allow us to connect easier with stakeholders and also have better access to the many talented students of Wageningen University. Even though we’ve just moved in the Plus Ultra 2 building, and it’s relatively quiet at the moment due to the Corona pandemic, we already notice positive network effects. We’ve definitely made the right decision to move here and look forward to expanding our business here in the years ahead.”