Siemens apprentices develop Biospheric Project technology

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Siemens apprentices and graduates have been at the cutting edge of the technology provided for The Biospheric Project, which has seen the transformation of a derelict mill in Salford into a sustainable agricultural space, laboratory and research centre. The site has been filled with innovative food systems, from agroforestry to aquaponics and hopes to tackle the issue of sustainable food supply and development in the 21st century.

Siemens has provided an automatic control and monitoring system for the facility to log experimental data to support future academic research. The Biospheric Project featured as the centre piece of this year’s Manchester International Festival and continues to grow as a source of sustainable food.

Apprentices and graduates, overseen by Siemens Industry project manager Martyn Catlow, were charged with designing and implementing the technology used in the project’s aquaponics system. They developed a system which controls the water circulation, monitors the temperature, pH and conductivity of the water in the fish tanks as well as providing climatic data and CO2, humidity, temperature and light levels within the polytunnel.

Martyn says: “We made a conscious decision to let apprentices and graduates lead the way for Siemens in constructing the technologies for The Biospheric Project. By doing this we want to show to young people that when you join a company like Siemens, you will be investing your time in projects that could transform the way in which we work with our ever-changing environment. With the North West’s rich history in innovation and commitment to developing pioneering technologies, there is a sense of purpose, that is helping our apprentices and grads inject real passion into this project.”

Three apprentices and three graduates worked on developing the technologies over the past the 6 months. Siemens partnered with architects BDP to develop the site.

James Yeoman, an apprentice at Siemens Industry says: “It’s fantastic to join a company and be assigned to such an exciting project that can make a real difference to how we source and grow our food supplies in the UK. By working with the team on the technologies used for the project I have really enhanced my engineering skills.”

The Biospheric Project aims to put Greater Manchester at the forefront of sustainable food supply research and development, and will continue to flourish beyond 2013. This commission is underpinned by Vincent Walsh’s research based at the Biospheric Foundation in Salford, in association with a range of organisations including MIRIAD at Manchester Metropolitan University and Queen’s University, Belfast.

Vincent Walsh director of the The Biospheric Project, comments: “It’s fantastic that we can encourage the up-skilling of young engineers, as well as inspire apprentices and graduates. This project has the potential to deliver real change for our cities and the way we source our food supplies, so I welcome the support of the Siemens apprentices and grads who have worked exceptionally hard to ensure the project was delivered on time and to a high standard.”

The Biospheric Project opened to the public for the first time as part of the Manchester International Festival in July 2013. Full details can be found at For more information about automatic control and monitoring systems from Siemens, please go to

21 August 2013

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