Pollutants to plant food pioneer plans global growth

Crop spraying

Innovate UK EDGE has been helping a Lincolnshire agri-tech business to make an impact on global markets with a disruptive technology that converts airborne pollutants in the form of nitrogen oxides (NOx) into plant food.

Crop Intellect Ltd was selected for a Global Business Innovation Programme (GBIP) to Canada in 2019, having already secured a £67k grant from Innovate UK in 2017 for a feasibility study into its innovation, called R-Leaf®. Innovate UK EDGE innovation and growth specialists who organised the GBIP helped to arrange a collaboration with a Canadian partner. 

Later, the specialists encouraged Crop Intellect to apply to the Innovate UK EDGE Scaleup Programme, to fully maximise the firm’s growth potential and ambition.

They also helped Crop Intellect to join the US Clean Tech Incubation Program and the company is now negotiating potential partnerships with businesses and universities. 

Multiple benefits from product with global growth potential 

A large proportion of NOx air pollution results not from industry or urban transport but from intensive agricultural practices around the world, such as applying nitrogen fertiliser materials.

When sprayed on foliage, R-Leaf captures NOx from the atmosphere and converts the oxides into nitrogen through photocatalysis on leaf surfaces. It provides a small amount of nitrogen to plants daily and has been proved to increase yield by up to 20%. 

Dr Apostolos Papadopoulos, director of Crop Intellect, said: “In creating R-Leaf, our aim has been to invent a multi-faceted disruptive technology that cleans the air, increases crop yield, improves soil health and makes nitrogen applications more efficient. 

“We are currently working towards obtaining carbon credits for using R-Leaf, enabling further benefits for the farmers and the industry while contributing to the reduction of global warming.” 

He added: “The support from Innovate UK EDGE has been paramount in providing clarity to the business strategy, matching the growth ambition of Crop Intellect to develop R-Leaf into a global product.”

The support from Innovate UK EDGE has been paramount in providing clarity to the business strategy"

Dr. Apostolos Papadopoulos, director of Crop Intellect