Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA)
  • Online attendance for overseas participants via Zoom. In-person attendance for UK delegates: 6th Floor, Rolle Building, University of Plymouth, Drake Circus, Plymouth PL4 8AA

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The Research Excellence Framework (REF) has awarded the University of Plymouth 1st place in the UK for ‘Impact case studies in the Field of Agriculture’ and 7th in the country in terms of (GPA) grade point average.* 
To celebrate these achievements, we are delighted to invite you to this international symposium entitled 'Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA): a promising technology for quality food and pharmaceutical production' which will be held at the University on Tuesday 13 September 2022.
* About the Research Excellence Framework (REF) results 2021/22
The University of Plymouth is assessed for the quality of its research outputs, research environment and the Impact of its research every seven years in the REF. The results for 2021/22 for the Unit of Assessment covering Agriculture, Food and Veterinary Science were spectacularly impressive with Plymouth rising up the university league table from 25th to 7th position overall. In particular, the University's Impact Case Studies were given the topmost ranking, placing Plymouth in first position for Impact. More than 84% of the research outputs (papers) assessed were classed as 'internationally excellent'.

Delegate and exhibitor registration

To book your free place as a delegate or exhibitor at this exciting and innovative event, please register through the University of Plymouth link above. If you register as an exhibitor, AO landscape poster boards, an 8ft trestle table and power will be included. Lunch and refreshments will be provided.
All in-person or online delegates will receive a certificate of attendance.
People from outside the UK can join the event online through Zoom; again please book through the registration link above.
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09:00–09:15 | Opening talk (Vice-Chancellor/Deputy Vice-Chancellor)
09:15–09:40 | Keynote talk: CEA – overview of developments and challenges for the future. (Professor Mick Fuller, Professor of Plant Physiology, University of Plymouth)
Climate change and CEA (Chair: Professor Richard Preziosi)
09:40–10:00 | Can traditional research techniques cope with the impact of climate change? The role of agri-tech. (Dr Naser Edin Obeid, Director General of the Arab Center for the Studies of Arid Zones and Dry Lands (ACSAD))
10:00–10:20 | CEA for water saving under dry conditions. Case study. (Dr Abdulla Alrajhi, Director of National Centre for Agricultural Technology, King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST), Saudi Arabia)
10:20–10:40 | The role of CEA in climate change adaptation in the MENA region. (Dr Almoayied Assayed, Director of Water, Environment and Climate Change Centre, Royal Scientific Society)
10:40–11:00 | Coffee break (provided)
CEA technology and commercial applications (Chair: Dr Hail Rihan, University of Plymouth)
11:00–11:20 | What does innovation in the CEA space look like? (Dr Rhydian Beynon-Davies, Head of Crop Optimisation, GrowUp Farms)
11:20–11:40 | The best of both worlds: building (automation) and horti (automation) = indoor growing/vertical farming (automation). (Dennis Louwe, Programme Manager Indoor Growing, Priva)
11:40–12:00 | Path to commercialisation within the supply chain. (James Lloyd-Jones, CEO and Founder of Jones Food Company (JFCo)
12:00–12:20 | All roads lead to grown: possible pathways for CEA. (Mark Horler, Chairman, UK Urban AgriTech (UKUAT) and Co-founder of The Soya Project)
12:20–12:40 | Commercialising aeroponics in CEA: where do greenhouse and vertical farmers' needs overlap? (Jack Farmer, Co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer of LettUs Grow)
12:40–13:50 | Lunch break (provided)
CEA and pharmaceutical industry (Chair: Professor Mick Fuller, University of Plymouth)
13:50–14:10 | Going back to the future: harnessing the complexity of plants to unlock a paradigm shift in medicine. (Dr Sebastian Vaughan, CEO of Phytome Life Sciences)
14:10–14:30 | Cross-faculty collaborations and pre-clinical workflows. (Dr Lynn McCallum, Associate Professor of Haematology, University of Plymouth)
14:30–14:50 | CEA effect on basil and pre-clinical applications. (Marwa Jbara, Research Assistant, Peninsula Medical School, University of Plymouth)
14:50–15:20 | Coffee break (provided)
General discussion (Yve Metcalfe-Tyrrell, University of Plymouth)
15:20–17:00 | Open discussion

Presenting institutions


Symposium presenters

  • Professor Mick Fuller

  • Dr Abdulla Alrajhi

  • Dr Naser Edin Obeid

  • Dr Almoayied Assayed

  • Dennis Louwe

  • James Lloyd-Jones

  • Mark Horler

  • Jack Farmer

  • Dr Lynn McCallum

  • Marwa Jbara

Professor Mick Fuller BSc, PhD, Professor of Plant Physiology, University of Plymouth

Mick holds the post of Professor of Plant Physiology in the School of Biological and Marine Sciences at the University of Plymouth and his current research concentrates on aspects of controlled environment growth of plants. He leads the Plant Factory project which was funded by agri-tech grants from EU-ERDF, Newton Fund, Seale-Hayne Education Trust and the British Council. This project seeks to optimise LED light arrays for Plant Factories in association with industrial partners from across the south west of the UK.

He has current international collaborations in Saudi Arabia, Egypt and China where he has recently completed research projects in horticultural robotics and controlled environment design and implementation. Previous research focused on stress biology in plants with seminal work on frost hardiness and ice formation and spread, and he pioneered the use of infrared thermography in frost studies in plants.

Mick was the Chairman of the UK Controlled Environment Users Group until 2021.

Dr Abdulla Alrajhi, Director of National Centre for Agricultural Technology, King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST), Saudi Arabia

Dr Abdullah A Alrajhi is the Director of National Center for Agriculture Technology, Life Science and Environment Research Institute, King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology. He is also the Director of the Joint Center for Environment, Water and Agriculture Research, a joint center between King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology and the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture.

Dr Alrajhi’s research interests are related to agriculture and water use, plant water requirements, deficit irrigation, alternate water resources in agriculture and the use of hydroponic system in dray climate. His research focus is directed at serving the recent transformations and trends of the agricultural sector in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, in particular, the issues related to reducing water consumption in the agricultural sector, which is a major challenge facing the sector currently.

Dr Naser Edin Obeid, Director General of the Arab Center for the Studies of Arid Zones and Dry Lands (ACSAD)

Dr Naser Edin Obeid, Director General of the Arab Center for the Studies of Arid Zones and Arid Lands (ACSAD), obtained his BA in Economics from Damascus University in 1983, and obtained his PhD in Agricultural and Environmental Economics in 1999. He held the position of Director of the Administrative and Financial Affairs Department at ACSAD, during the period from 1995 to 2020, and was appointed as a Director General of ACSAD on 1 July 2020.

Dr Obeid participated in the preparation of strategies, plans and regulations of the Arab Center for Studies of Dry Zones and Dry Lands (ACSAD), and the preparation of more than ten economic and social studies for many Arab countries (Syria, Libya, Jordan, Iraq). He has co-authored several books and scientific articles in the field of assessing the ecological economy, monitoring and combating desertification. He participated in the work of high level meetings at the the League of Arab States and its organisations during the preparatory and inaugural meetings of a number of Arab summits – the Economic and Social Council, the Higher Coordination Committee – the Executive Office of the Council of Arab Ministers Responsible for Environmental Affairs within the meetings of the General Assembly of ACSAD, in addition to many Arab development meetings.

Dr Almoayied Assayed, Director of Water, Environment and Climate Change Centre, Royal Scientific Society

Dr Almoayied Assayed is the Director of Water and Environment Centre at Royal Scientific Society (RSS) of Jordan. He has more than 20 years’ experience in water management, water resilience, climate change, water and food nexus and circular economy. He had developed innovative model for onsite greywater reuse and urban food production, which was later commercialised at wider scale and is now benefiting more than 20,000 people in Jordan. Dr Assayed is currently managing about £1 million donor-funded projects, focusing on circular economy and climate resilience. 

Dr Assayed has been awarded the UK Alumni Award (2021) in recognition to his outstanding achievements in environment and sustainability. Dr Assayed has a PhD from the University of Surrey since 2014 in the field of sustainability and environmental management.

Dr Rhydian Beynon-Davies, Head of Crop Optimisation, GrowUp Farms
Dennis Louwe, Programme Manager Indoor Growing, Priva

Dennis Louwe works at Priva HQ, the Netherlands as a Programme Manager Indoor Growing/Vertical Farming (strategically responsible for IG/VF worldwide), mainly for indoor projects (growing without natural daylight) technology and therefor working close with Priva’s Portfolio team and R&D department. Another part is looking into what start-ups can bring for Priva and Priva for them. Dennis is a specialist in the field of indoor growing and vertical farming (background HVAC, Mechanical & Control Engineering), where the horticulture and building worlds come together. 

On behalf of Priva he is involved in many initiatives in this field worldwide. In the last few years his focus has been on Europe, the USA and Canada. The focus for the coming years will be South East Asia and the Middle East.

James Lloyd-Jones, Founder and CEO, Jones Food Company

James founded Jones Food Company in October 2016 having been introduced to technology via a feature on Tomorrow’s World

Driven by a dynamic and entrepreneurial spirit, he set out to scale vertical farming and after receiving his first funding in early 2018 he built Europe’s largest vertical farm in Scunthorpe, Lincolnshire. The JFC growing estate continues to expand as the company broke ground last year on what will become the world’s largest vertical farm as well as opening a new state-of-the-art R&D centre in Bristol. Not coming from a horticultural background himself has allowed James to come into the field with a pragmatic business mind and the agility to pivot quickly and scale on a phenomenal level. He predicts that vertical farming could provide 70% of the UK’s fresh produce within the next ten years.

Mark Horler, Chairman, UK Urban AgriTech (UKUAT) and Co-founder of The Soya Project

Mark has been involved in the Vertical Farming industry for around nine years. He is the Founder and Chairman of UK Urban AgriTech (UKUAT) collective, bringing together the leading companies, universities and individuals in the UK urban agritech industry. He is also Communications Manager at The FarmTech Society, the Co-Founder of The Soya Project, and does freelance consulting work across the industry.

In his work he has dealt extensively with industry standardisation, sustainability certification, vertical farming education and vertical farming policy. His expertise is in building networks and associations that maximise value for their members, and for the industry as a whole. Mark’s primary interest is in taking a systemic overview of how vertical farming can be integrated with other systems, to deliver on its promises of regenerative food production and resilient societies.

Jack Farmer, Co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer of LettUs Grow

Jack is Co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer of LettUs Grow, a world leading aeroponic irrigation company. He is a plant biologist specialising in controlled environment agriculture and its use as a means to reduce agricultural pressures upon natural ecosystems. 

Jack is a passionate advocate for the use of social enterprise, policy and the circular economy to bring about a more sustainable future.

Dr Sebastian Vaughan, CEO of Phytome Life Sciences
Dr Lynn McCallum, Associate Professor of Haematology, University of Plymouth
Marwa Jbara, Research Assistant, Peninsula Medical School, University of Plymouth

Marwa Jbara is a Research Assistant in the School of Biomedical Sciences at the University of Plymouth. She holds an MSc in Pharmacy and she is at at the final stage of her PhD programme at the University. 

Her key research interests are in signalling mechanisms underlying malignancy and identification of novel targets and treatments for therapeutic development. Her research involves screening pharmaceutical plant extracts for therapeutic use to treat mantle cell lymphoma, an aggressive disorder with very poor survival rates of less than five years.


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