Last week, Aria Samimi and his InsectSense team won the Topsector Horticulture Innovation Prize 2021. InsectSense received the award for its biosensor that integrates the smelling abilities of bees to detect plant diseases. 

The jury said: “InsectSense harnesses the incredible sense of smell by real bees for the early detection of plant diseases. The method is fast, accurate, cost-effective and non-invasive. It can really help prevent significant economic losses in the agricultural and horticultural sector. Their solution is truly game changing and also very sustainable. It uses nature’s power to grow food optimally and sustainably: the help of nature to improve nature. For all those reasons, we like to support the further development of Beesense.”

€25.000 and a wild card

InsectSense received the award from Marije Beens, director-general Agro at the Dutch Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality. In addition to the prestige of the award, the company receives a knowledge voucher of €25,000. The voucher allows the company to further develop the concept and solve bottlenecks with the support of professors and students of Wageningen University & Research. InsectSense also receives personal support from a T&U innovation broker and is given a wild card to StartLife’s acceleration program.

Public vote winner: Thermeleon

With a record number of votes from the public, Startup Thermeleon received the audience award. This startup makes greenhouses more energy efficient by strategically re-using the excess heat during the day-and-night cycle, reducing CO2 emissions and energy costs for growers. Thermeleon won a cash prize of €1,500 and a 6-month HortiTech Startup Membership with access to the network, knowledge and facilities of HortiHeroes and World Horti Center.