Linh Pham

Linh Pham

Linh holds a master's degree in media and communications. In the past years, she has worked as an employee and freelancer in different editorial offices. Since 2020 she is part of the SpinLab team and is now responsible for public relations.

Recent posts by Linh Pham

5 min read

Startup Poás Bioenergy pioneering sustainable energy & soil regeneration

By Linh Pham on Jun 2, 2023 11:17:47 AM

In this interview, we delve into the innovative world of RootCamp climate tech startup Poás Bioenergy. Poás Bioenergy has developed groundbreaking technology that converts agricultural waste into valuable resources, including biochar and syngas. With a mission to reshape the perception of waste and drive the transition away from fossil fuels, Poás Bioenergy is paving the way for a circular economy in the AgTech and Bioeconomy sectors.

Sofía Camarero and Jose Alfaro, the founders of Poás Bioenergy, introduce their groundbreaking technology that transforms agricultural waste into biochar and syngas. Photo: Poás Bioenergy

Please explain how Poás Bioenergy's gasification technology converts agricultural waste into biochar and synthesis gas?

Biomass gasification is a process in which organic materials are transformed into a gas mixture called syngas or synthesis gas through a series of chemical reactions. Poás Bioenergy's reactor provides the high-temperature and oxygen-limited environment required for these reactions to occur, allowing the biomass to decompose and release gasses, including carbon monoxide, hydrogen, and methane. Our gasification technology optimizes not only for energy production but also for biochar production. The biochar is accumulated in a chamber as the syngas is continuously produced. We utilize our technology to upcycle abundant and problematic organic materials, such as agricultural wastes from crops like coffee and pineapple. To ensure proper processing, our system includes a biomass pretreatment unit to extract water from these wastes before they enter the gasification reactor.

How does the production of biochar and synthesis gas contribute to the regeneration of soils and the sequestration of carbon?

This is mainly achieved by our focus on optimizing biochar production. The use of biochar dates back thousands of years and has a rich history across different cultures. More recently, interest in biochar has grown due to its potential as a tool for carbon sequestration and regenerative agriculture. Biochar is a highly stable form of carbon that offers multiple environmental benefits.

Prototype of Poás Bioenergy gasification technology. Photo: Poás Bioenergy

By adding biochar to the soil, carbon dioxide that was absorbed by the biomass is removed from the atmosphere and stored in the soil, contributing to the mitigation of climate change. There is robust evidence and a high scientific consensus that biochar can effectively store carbon away from the atmosphere for centuries. Additionally, when incorporated into agricultural soils, biochar improves water retention, nutrient availability, and soil structure. It acts as a sponge, absorbing water and nutrients that can then be slowly released to plants, thereby reducing the need for irrigation and fertilizer application.

In our case, as we utilize agricultural wastes and divert these materials from field burning or anaerobic decomposition, biochar production helps to avoid methane emissions, pests, and other environmental hazards.

What potential applications do you see for the syngas produced by your technology?

With our technology, we aim to reshape the perception of waste and leverage it to create a circular economy while transitioning away from fossil fuels. Syngas is a prime example of this, as it can effectively replace fuels such as natural gas and liquefied petroleum gas in various thermal applications and internal combustion engines. In Costa Rica, most agribusinesses rely on fossil fuels for their operations. This presents a significant opportunity for us, as it is challenging to decarbonize dryers, boilers, and kilns, and electrification of this machinery is currently not a viable option due to high electricity costs and the associated capital expenditures. Moreover, syngas can be utilized in the production of specialty chemicals, and we intend to explore these applications in the future.

Do you have any new projects or developments in the pipeline that you can share with us?

We are thrilled to announce that we have signed two letters of intent to initiate our first pilot operations in Costa Rica, focusing on the coffee and pineapple sectors. Our first pilot project will be in collaboration with Good Liquorworks, an independent company specializing in climate-positive spirits derived from overlooked agricultural byproducts and innovative ingredients. Together, we will establish an operation to process 6000 tons per year of coffee fruit pulp waste. The extracted sugar-rich water will be supplied to Good Liquorworks for the production of bioethanol, while the remaining dry solids will be used to produce biochar to meet the thermal demand of Good Liquorworks' distillery.

Our second pilot project will be implemented as part of a UNDP GEF-financed initiative aimed at eliminating persistent organic pollutants emitted during current field burning practices in pineapple cultivation. In this project, we will process pineapple waste from Nicoverde, a local pineapple producer and partner. Nicoverde aims to purchase biochar and thermal energy for their own consumption.

What are the advantages for corporates in partnering and collaborating with startups like Poás Bioenergy?

The startup ecosystem is at the forefront of innovation and can bring fresh ideas, technologies, and approaches to the table. Moreover, startups often possess unique insights and have access to markets that large corporations have yet to penetrate. Additionally, startups tend to be more agile in navigating these markets. In our case, we offer market intelligence and an established network in the pineapple and coffee sectors in Costa Rica. We strongly believe that by collaborating with startups, companies can unlock synergies and effectively develop new products, services, or business models that benefit both parties and generate overall value.

Why did you apply for the RootCamp Accelerator program?

We strongly resonated with RootCamp's goal of disrupting the agricultural value chain and recognized the tremendous benefits of participating in their accelerator program, which focuses on AgTech and Bioeconomy innovation – our specific sector. As a startup based in the United States with operations in Latin America, we saw the opportunity to expand our network in Europe through RootCamp, connecting us with experts, investors, and corporate partners in a region that is highly relevant to us. Europe leads the way in bioeconomy initiatives and represents a significant market for both coffee and pineapple. European stakeholders, therefore, play a crucial role in the value chains in which we operate.

➡️ RootCamp is delighted to support Poás Bioenergy's mission and invites all AgTech and Bioeconomy startups with to apply for the next batch of the RootCamp acceleration program. Don't miss this opportunity to join a network of experts, investors, and corporate partners while accelerating your impact. Applications are open until August 1st.

Topics: Startup Bios energy Interview
5 min read

10 publications every AgTech startup founder should know

By Linh Pham on May 26, 2023 4:02:33 PM

In the fast-paced world of startups, where groundbreaking innovations are sprouting like never before, getting your company's name out there is more critical than ever. While having an exceptional product is undoubtedly essential, the true path to success lies in capturing the attention of the right audience. That's where the power of PR and media features comes into play. As a founder, gaining exposure for your startup is crucial for success. Getting featured in prominent media outlets not only helps you build credibility but also attracts potential investors, partners, and customers. In this article, we will introduce you to 10 must-know (Agtech) startup publications that can provide the perfect platform for showcasing your startup. Let's dive in!

Topics: Startup Bios agtech RootCamp Livestock carbon farming
5 min read

Seqana: Scaling the impact of regenerative agriculture

By Linh Pham on Mar 27, 2023 4:00:39 PM

Regularly, we want to present to you the startups that are part of the RootCamp accelerator startup program. In theinterview series, we introduce you to the founders, their innovative technology, and how RootCamp has taken the startup to the next level.  The benefits of regenerative agriculture are becoming increasingly clear, with its potential to provide economic, environmental, and social advantages. A recent study by the Boston Consulting Group has estimated that shifting to regenerative agriculture in Germany could result in a total economic value of approximately €8.5 billion per year, primarily due to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, improved soil capacity, and enhanced water quality. Seqana, a startup specializing in satellite imagery, is playing a crucial role in supporting multiple regenerative projects in Germany and beyond.

Read below the interview with Jakob Levin, co-founder of Seqana. 

Seqana was part of RootCamp Batch#3. Photo: Seqana Team

Describe what your startup does.

Our goal is to unlock soil carbon for nature-based solutions, such as insetting and offsetting projects, by creating a revolutionary Monitoring, Reporting, and Verification (MRV) system that is satellite-based and currently unavailable in the market. MRV is a critical part of natural climate solutions (NCS), and often the most costly. 

Our innovative MRV system uses satellite imagery to dramatically reduce the cost of soil sampling. In addition, leverage satellite imagery to complete the soil organic carbon (SOC) analysis process 60 times faster than current solutions. By providing accurate and reliable data on soil carbon, we can make nature-based solutions more accessible and cost-effective for businesses and governments seeking to reduce their carbon footprint. Our solution is not only environmentally sustainable, but also economically viable, making it an attractive option for anyone looking to invest in climate action.

How does your technology bring positive change to agriculture?

Soil carbon is not the most exciting aspect of agriculture. It is just one parameter. But it is a convenient proxy for indicating soil health, water retention, resilience to drought, and heavy rain porosity. Effective mitigation of climate change requires the adoption of clean energy and the removal of atmospheric carbon. One promising strategy for increasing carbon sinks and reducing emissions is the cultivation of soil carbon due to its benefits for agriculture. However, the practical application of soil carbon climate strategies lags behind their potential due to the lack of clarity around the magnitude of the opportunity and how to best capitalize on it. To overcome this hurdle, it is crucial to explore innovative approaches and strategies that prioritize the development and implementation of soil carbon climate solutions. By doing so, we can unlock the full potential of soil carbon as a climate mitigation tool and pave the way for a more sustainable future.

At Seqana we empower climate positive land use managers to conduct analyses of soil organic carbon (SOC) with ease and efficiency. One way that we help is by measuring, we can make carbon financing more accessible to projects which benefit the transition of agriculture. We can also encourage supply chain resilience by making harvest more predictable because the soil is healthier.

Tell us why Nature Climate Solutions (NSCs) are the future for climate action?

Natural climate solutions refer to a set of conservation, restoration, and land management measures aimed at increasing carbon storage or reducing greenhouse gas emissions. These solutions, when combined with clean energy innovations and other strategies to decarbonize global economies, represent some of the most effective options available for combating climate change. 

NSCs are becoming increasingly important in the fight against climate change because they offer numerous advantages over traditional approaches. Firstly, NSCs are typically more cost-effective than many other climate mitigation strategies. Our solution for example costs 10 times less than current alternatives. At the same time, NCS brings environmental, social and economic benefits and can thus contribute to strengthening resilience.

At Seqana, we have developed a state-of-the-art technology that not only accelerates the MRV process but comes at a lower price tag. We are convinced that this technology can spur permitting of NCS projects to keep up with the growing demand for carbon removal.

Why did you decide to apply for RootCamp?

One of the key benefits of the RootCamp accelerator program is the direct line to some of the biggest agricultural players like K+S and the unique chance to conduct pilot projects. This is crucial for startups like us. Working with established companies through pilot projects provide startups with valuable insights into how larger companies operate, what they look for in potential partners or suppliers, and how they make decisions. This information helps us to better understand the needs and preferences of the target customers. 

How did RootCamp help you with your business?

As a RootCamp startup alumni, we highly recommend joining the RootCamp accelerator program for any aspiring entrepreneur looking to accelerate their growth and take their startup to the next level. We are incredibly thankful for the strong connections and pleased to have the great opportunity to implement pilot projects with the RootCamp partners, KWS and KS. Overall the program was a great package of networking, mentorship, personal coaching and incentives, all of which helped us optimize our product and processes and reach milestones faster.

Stefan Gönner (Founder of Seqana) Pitching at RootCamp

What are your plans for the near future?

We are planning to raise a seed investment. The next financing round will be this year, which we are preparing for at the moment. Furthermore, we are deploying projects in more than 10 countries, and signed an open letter to the EU Commission calling for an ambitious and progressive soil health law. Healthy soils are fundamental to achieving the targets of the European Green Deal and the transition to asustainable food system. The health of European soils is rapidly degrading. An ambitious Soil Health Law is urgently needed. 

To support this, the Soil Health Law Coalition and signatories are offering to share their expertise and provide more detailed political, economic, technological, and legal analysis as needed. 

➡️ Do you want to level upyour startuplike Seqana and benefit from the unique ecosystem of innovation hub RootCamp? Sign up for our newsletter and follow us on LinkedInto not miss the next application deadline for batch #5. 

Topics: News RootCamp
2 min read

Lower Saxony fosters innovation: RootCamp receives funding

By Linh Pham on Mar 20, 2023 5:19:33 PM

Since 2018, Lower Saxony has been supporting the establishment of startup centers and is now funding ten such centerswith 2.31 million euros from 2023 to 2025. The eligible total costs are covered 50 percent by the state. We are thrilled to announce that RootCamp is among the selected startup centers to receive funding. We are very pleased and excited about this opportunity, which will enable us to further expand our acceleration program and support even more startups in Lower Saxony and beyond.

Topics: News RootCamp
6 min read

10 AgTech startup events you should not miss in 2023

By Linh Pham on Feb 16, 2023 8:00:00 AM

Agriculture technology is an innovative field that combines cutting-edge technology to create sustainable and efficient solutions. With the growth of agtech startups, there are now numerous events that showcase the latest developments in the industry. To help you to navigate the vast amount of startup events, we have compiled 10 startup events with focus on agriculture for 2023 that you don’t want to miss!

Topics: Startup Tips Events demo day