In the ever-changing business landscape entrepreneurs need to be modern, progressive, move with the times and first of all they should be ready to meet the challenges of the modern world. One of such challenges constitute environmental aspects and understanding the negative aspects of man’s activity that translate into environmental pollution, running out of natural resources or climate changes. A modern enterprise needs to be managed in a strategic and market way and promote innovative solutions. This also includes the environmental impact evaluation. Thus, contemporary eco-innovative actions are perceived as a vital element of environmental policy and they are indispensable to comply with the requirements of environmental protection and at the same time build the economic competitiveness. Implementing eco-innovations improves efficiency of enterprise operations. It allows to decrease the cost of operations through reduced consumption of energy, water and other materials improving simultaneously effectiveness and profitability of operations. This helps to meet the requirements of ever stricter legal regulations pertaining to environmental protection and using environmentally-friendly processes is more frequently notices or even appreciated by customers. This is also the case with Uniflora, an enterprise that not only strives to be a responsible leader in its business, but also wants to be perceived as a company that takes care of its employees, customers, and the environment.
Uniflora Sp. z o.o. is the company with many years of tradition operating in the business of safety food. Within the last few years the company has become a leader in its business. It provides selected products of guaranteed quality. The basic assortment of products includes lettuces, herbs, micro-leaves, and vegetable sprouts. The products are grown exclusively with the use of light, water, and temperature, from examined seeds that come from selected suppliers. The product do not require pre-treatment and are ready for consumption. In 2012 Uniflora implemented the international Food Safety Standard. In 2014 the company obtained the BRC certificate – Global Standard for Food Safety and in 2017 after it commenced the hall with the most modern technology for producing Mung beans it became the leader in production of this type of sprouts in Europe.
Initially, the operations of Uniflora in the scope of creating and implementing innovative solutions, eco-innovative ones in particular, was quite limited. The perception of innovative solutions as a driver of the company’s development was at a very high level from the very beginning, yet financial capabilities and access to expert knowledge were limited. Therefore, being fully aware as to the need to implement innovative solutions being an impulse for the company’s further development, it began collaboration with Czestochowa University of Technology, Department of Advances Energy Technologies. The collaboration with the abovementioned R&D unit allowed Uniflora to gain access to R&D facilities and expert knowledge in the scope of technologies of utilising off heat and energy transformations. It needs to be stressed that competences of the employees of Czestochowa University of Technology in the scope of knowledge and experience in recognising the possibilities of acquiring financing for innovative undertakings from various external sources contributed to carrying out two innovative projects.
The first carried out project was POIR.01.01.01-00-0759/17 „Comprehensive energy-saving pilot line for production of vegetable sprouts of improved qualitative parameters”. Its goal was to develop and implement the technology for producing Mung beans sprouts of the determined by customers qualitative parameters and prolonged transport durability, at the same time reducing the consumption of primary fuels. Thanks to the collaboration between the two units a pilot line was developed and implemented, which complied with the assumed requirements. An interesting, eco-innovative idea was application of internal heat retrieval from biological processes and implementation of renewable energy sources. This allowed to limit the consumption of primary fuels almost completely and the demand for water was significantly decreased. The implemented technological line is practically a zero-emission one and the produced Mung beans sprouts are a fully ecological product.
The positive experiences from the collaboration within the first project led to acquisition and implementation of another project POIR.01.01.01-00-0058/19 „ A pilot line for production of sunflower sprouts of improved qualitative parameters”, for which external financing was also acquired. Presently, the project is being implemented and its end is planned in 2022. A measurable result of the collaboration between the R&D unit – Czestochowa University of Technology and Uniflora, a representative of the sector of small and medium-sized enterprises will be developing the technology of growing the sunflower sprouts of improved qualitative parameters, satisfying the expectations of customers, making use of energy-saving technology of LED light sources.