Association/Company: FarmTech Society
Dr. Mary Ellis is Chairwoman of FarmTech Society (FTS), an international non-profit industry association that unites and supports the Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) industry. Mary has spent over 20 years working hands-on with innovators, entrepreneurs, and scientists in early-stage companies and business start-ups. She is Founder of Earle & Associates Ltd., a business and technology consultancy for start-ups in the life-science and Agri-tech sectors.
Born and raised into an organic family farming business, her knowledge of agriculture alongside her academic training in pharmacology, neuroscience, and business, places her in a unique position to explore the intersection between pharmaceuticals and agriculture. She is founder or co-founder of several health technology companies, having worked closely with universities and research institutes in Canada, Ireland, and the UK.
The intersection between health care and indoor growing
Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) allows indoor farms to control every aspect of crop growing, including light recipes, humidity, air flow, and water, all of which are precisely measured and monitored all year round. The result is not only a system for crop production that is no longer reliant on weather patterns, but also a much more predictable and consistent crop outcome, which is critical in ensuring a viable business model particularly in medical production systems.
Technological advances in CEA allow the grower to fine tune the environment and tailor it to the desired output characteristics of the plant, including its chemical composition. This in turn facilitates brand identity, helps consumers become brand loyal and helps producers sell their products at a premium. In medical markets, consistency also gives comfort to prescribing physicians and is critical for advancement of plant medicines in under-served markets.