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Feeding Tomorrow: Sustainable Food Solutions for a Long and Healthy Future
One of Fyto's growing rooms.

December 2023 – George Lee

Theme: Food

Feeding Tomorrow:
Sustainable Food Solutions for a Long and Healthy Future

Meet Greg Short, the visionary behind Fyto, a groundbreaking force reshaping our food systems. Greg’s journey into sustainable food production stems from a deep-seated vision — to redefine how we grow and enjoy food, all while protecting the longevity of our society amidst a rapidly ageing population and the looming threat of the climate crisis. His innovative approach tackles age-old challenges aiming to create a more sustainable and resilient food system for generations to come. 

Fyto growing room.

“My background in electronic engineering led me to meet my business partner,” Greg recalls. “Both sustainability enthusiasts, we envisioned a world where hyperlocalisation redefined everything — energy, food, and water production. The nonsensical nature of food traveling across continents resonated deeply with us. We saw an opportunity to reshape communities by reconnecting them with food through technology.” 

The spark of hydroponics — a method of growing plants without soil, using mineral nutrient solutions in water to cultivate crops — ignited when Greg was just 14, fuelled their venture. “The idea was simple—utilise new technology to grow food closer to where people live, fostering freshness, nutrition, education, and reducing waste,” he explains. Amid the tumultuous backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, Greg and his business partner took the leap in 2020, leaving their jobs to pursue their shared passion. 

Pooling their expertise in engineering, chemistry, and project management, they embarked on creating a system designed for communities, schools, and even disused spaces. Their garage became the birthplace of their innovation, where they tinkered with lighting, nutrients, and sensors, perfecting a scalable model for vertical farming. “We aimed for smaller, community-centric units, departing from the massive industrial warehouse setups in the industry,” Greg reminisces, sharing anecdotes of their hands-on approach and the steep learning curve they encountered. 

Fyto counter top growing unit.

“Vertical farming proved cost-effective, but a key challenge was ensuring demand matched supply,” Greg admits. “We found ourselves with an abundance of food and decided to venture into selling it.” 

Their journey was a testament to resilience and adaptability, navigating the trials of entrepreneurship. “Bouncing ideas in a garage, amidst aluminum bits flying around, we quickly realised the surplus of food generated,” Greg chuckles. “This prompted our shift into commercialising our produce.” 

The project went through different versions and trials, embracing and learning from the challenges they encountered along the journey. However, their pivot into the market was not without hurdles. “Competition with supermarkets and the intricacies of managing costs taught us hard lessons,” Greg reflects. “The economic uncertainties, compounded by the COVID-19 crisis and fluctuating electricity prices, forced us to rethink our approach.” 

Larger cutomer unit

Larger Fyto cutomer grow unit.

As Greg explored sustainable farming, the taste of their crops became a crucial aspect of their products. “The flavors are intense,” he shares, highlighting the profound difference in taste compared to commercially packaged plants. Food produce can lose up to 50% of its nutritional value during transport.” 

"The slim profits in the food business require a reassessment."

Their journey into commercial sales began in August 2021, primarily focusing on herbs and leafy greens due to their ease and speed of growth, matching up with being economically viable. However, the competitive landscape proved daunting. “Supermarkets often sell greens at a loss to draw customers, making it challenging for us to compete,” Greg explains. This discovery led them to try growing different herbs and test out new ways of doing business, like selling equipment, delivering food, and working together with restaurants. However, their efforts encountered several significant challenges along the way. “We eventually closed the growing room due to the struggle to generate profits,” Greg admits. The combination of factors—starting a light-intensive business, coupled with the Ukraine-Russia conflict and surging electricity prices—added to their hardships. 

Looking back on these tough situations, Greg emphasises the important lessons gained. “It’s taught us a lot about resilience,” he admits. “We expanded our initiatives, realising the necessity for a fresh approach to food. The slim profits in the food business require a reassessment.”  

Amidst these challenges, Greg is hopeful that he sees change on the horizon. “Sustainability discussions are gaining traction making the big players take notice and adapt their operation he observes. However, he emphasises the necessity for a fundamental shift in how we perceive and value sustainability in the economic landscape. 

Their decision to pivot into the research sector earlier this year stemmed from the escalating costs and evolving landscape. “We secured an Innovate UK grant, focusing on biofortification of plants,” Greg shares. Using their insights from their grow rooms, they redirected their efforts into exploring the potential of this technology and its implications. “The sector is new with constant changes and a pressing need for innovative solutions,” Greg asserts. 

Delivery day herbs and flowers.

When asked about changing current food systems, Greg suggests a practical solution: “Implementing a carbon tax could encourage sustainability by changing how consumers spend their money. However, implementing a carbon tax is a very complicated task to achieve due to complexities in traceability and responsibility.” 

Their current research focuses on biofortification through hydroponics, a method that adds specific nutrients to plants. “We adjust settings to boost plants with necessary nutrients, devising a ‘formula’ for plants with particular health advantages,” Greg explains. At the same time, they’re studying how to decrease harmful components in food, especially for patients with specific health requirements.  

Greg’s journey epitomises resilience and adaptability, offering insights into the transformative power of innovation. As they navigate new areas of innovation, their commitment to redefining food sustainability continues to drive them toward a future where food and medicine meet, revolutionising the very food we eat. 

For Greg, sustainability and food are more than a venture; they encapsulate his passion and purpose. “Sustainability and food have been my means to drive change,” Greg affirms. Their focus lies in catalysing research toward sustainable food production. “We aim to aid research in posing the right questions, seeking ways to make sustainable food production a viable reality,” he explains confidently, drawing from their experience of successfully bringing five different products to market. 

The IOCT programme “aligns with our values—community, health, quality of life.”

Schoolchildren learning about hydoponics.

Schoolchildren learning about hydroponics.

Fyto’s collaboration with our IOCT programme stemmed from Greg’s recognition at the Young Innovators Award in 2021. “The program aligns with our values—community, health, quality of life, and technology, with a nod toward mental health,” Greg mentions. His commitment to quality of life, coupled with sustainability, emerges as a driving force. “Sustainability has triggered change, but I foresee an increasing focus on quality of life,” he predicts. 

Reflecting on insights gained from the Voice Panel, Greg highlights a significant shift in their approach. “While there was consumer interest, we realised the economic feasibility wasn’t aligning,” he acknowledges. Insights from IOCT and Voice directed them toward a strategic shift. “Rather than immediate market penetration, we pivoted to education —engaging institutions, universities, and schools — to enlighten people about challenges and opportunities,” Greg states. 

Greg’s vision extends beyond mere innovation — it’s about holistic collaboration. “I want to create a culture of collaboration where different solutions converge for a common goal,” he stresses. The current trend of pursuing ‘shiny new things’ concerns him, emphasising the need for more connected efforts across various initiatives. 

In contemplating the future, Greg sees himself “In five years, I want to be seen as a force in creating positive change, not just in food but wherever I can add value,” he says. His core identity as an engineer — solving problems for a better world — fuels this aspiration. “I want to be someone who dedicates time to confronting global challenges and at least tries to find solutions,” Greg declares with conviction. 

Greg’s strong commitment and passionate dedication make him a powerful force, destined to make a lasting impact on the world. His persistent search for creative solutions will surely lead to a more sustainable and successful future for generations ahead. 

More Information

More about Fyto, IOCT™ and Voice®

Greg Short

Greg Short.

If you are interested in learning more about Fyto, you can get in touch with them at, or you can find them on Instagram at @fyto_ltd or on their Linkedin page. 

You can find more about working with the IOCT programme  which works with companies to tap into emerging technologies that benefit the longevity of the population here.  

You can find out more about how to join our Voice community here and have the opportunity to work with innovation companies like Fyto. 

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