In July 2018, one of the biggest European rooftop greenhouses (RTG) went bankrupt. Located in The Hague (Netherlands), this project, named UF002 De Schilde (UF), was built in 2016 and maintained by “Urban- Farmers”, a Swiss company which already made a pilot RTG based in Basel (Switzerland) in 2013.
UF’s project produced tomatoes, eggplants, peppers and leafy greens on a 1 200 m² RTG; and fish, tilapia species (120m³), just beneath on the 6th floor of the building. The project total cost was 2,7 M€ which corresponds to 2 250€/m². Despite the project being developed by experienced urban growers, it had to close in 2018.
Why did it close so quickly? What are the main reasons for this bankruptcy? Which mistakes have been made? What could be learned?
Thanks to the documents available online and interviews that they could hold, the GROOF‘s team (which includes our researcher Nicolas Ancion) wrote a complete report that highlights the fact that the strategy, the internal disagreement, and the production techniques challenges, are all linked to the failure of this project. Indeed, the business model of this company, which looked very appealing on paper, didn’t reach economic viability.