Skip to main content

SpaceBakery Symposium 2022

On behalf of the SpaceBakery team, it is my great pleasure to invite you to the SpaceBakery Symposium. Themed ‘Towards a healthy, resilient and sustainable agri-food system’ this event will be hosted by Flanders’ FOOD, Puratos, Urban Crop Solutions, MAGICS Instruments, Ghent University, SCK CEN and Hasselt University with the support of the Flemish space cluster Flanders Space and VLAIO. The symposium will take place from 7 until 8 June 2022 in Antwerp Expo, with 6 plenary sessions and 4 breakout sessions. 

Registration closed


Bread on Mars?
07/06/2022 - 08/06/2022

Antwerp Expo. Jan van Rijswijcklaan 191, 2020 Antwerpen.



The objective of this symposium is to raise awareness that innovation requires interdisciplinary collaboration. An open innovation model will enable us to move towards a healthy, resilient and sustainable agri-food system

In this light, we, the SpaceBakery team, will present our results of the past two years. But more importantly we want to interact with you. This event will bring together academia, scientists, entrepreneurs, policy makers and many others to discuss and demonstrate on how to create a future proof agri-food system. 


As the latest IPCC report states, climate change is rapid, widespread, and intensifying. Code red for humanity has been declared. We must act now. The United Nations and many other institutes are defining global targets. All actors are encouraged to take action in order to meet these goals.  

Sustainable food production and consumption are key to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and preserve biodiversity. So, food system changes will be needed to mitigate further global warming. However, the present tells us that adaptation to climate change will become as important.  

So, we, as farmers, industry and agri-food scientists, need to start thinking on how to adapt and transform our agri-food systems to be able to operate within the planetary boundaries and safeguard the future of our planet. 

The SpaceBakery team aims to rethink the wheat value chain in terms of resilience and sustainability. In the light of the changing climate, we want to produce healthier and more nutritious wheat-based staple foods. To make this ambition more tangible, we envisioned to bake bread on Mars. As climate conditions on Mars are extremely restricted, this harsh environment challenged us to explore disruptive space technologies that generate important knowledge on how to find innovative solutions for the wheat value chain on Earth.  


Day 1 - 07/06/2022

08.00 Registration & Coffee

09.00 Opening Day 1 & Welcome speech - Puratos’ Mission to Mars

09.15 Plenary session 1 by em. prof. dr. ir. Willy Verstraete (Ghent University) & dr. Nicole Buckley (SciSpacE Team Leader - ESA)

10.15 Plenary session 2 Sustainable crop production in a life support system on Mars by Nele Horemans & Natalie Leys (SCK CEN) & Ann Cuypers (Hasselt University)

SCK CEN highlights the effect of radiation and microgravity on wheat seeds, crop growth and development. The focus lies on the role of the microbiome during space exploration, the local growth substrates that can be used, and the importance of bioreactors and life support systems for crop production. University of Hasselt illustrates sustainable crop production in a closed system by the recycling of wheat waste into biochar as reusable fertilizer and its associated benefits for the microbial community and plant growth. 

10.45 Coffee Break & Networking 

11.30 Breakout sessions

During the breakout sessions the Spacebakery team will interact with the participants. They will discuss further their project results and exchange thoughts and ideas on how the agri-food systems can be changed. These interaction moments are ordered into four important challenges. During the timeframe of the symposium each participant will be invited to interact in the four sessions.    

  1. How to develop a microbiome in a sterile (Martian) environment? How can fermentation contribute to human health? - Hosted by SCK CEN and Puratos  
  2. How does research for Mars shortcut sustainable agriculture on Earth in terms of land use, water use and nutrient uptake? - Hosted by SCK CEN, Urban Crop Solutions, Hasselt University and Ghent University 
  3. What are the opportunities and pitfalls of AI, models and robotics for modern agri-food systems? - Hosted by Magics Instruments and Ghent University
  4. What are the crops and functional ingredients of the future? How will the plant-based Martian diet tick of all the astronauts’ nutritional needs? - Hosted by SCK CEN, Puratos and Ghent University

13.00 Lunch & Networking 

14.30 Plenary session 3 How AI and semiconductor chips can help in extra-terrestrial farming by Jens Verbeeck (Magics Instruments)

It may come as a surprise that a company that is focused on chip technology lands in a consortium that is focused on food in space, but it shouldn’t. This session will explain why AI and chip technology are just unavoidable not only when optimizing for food production on Mars, but also for terrestrial applications in the field of closed environment vertical farming. 

15.00 Coffee break & Networking 

15.45 Breakout session 1, 2, 3 & 4

Each participant will be invited to interact in the four sessions (see program day 1; 11:00 - 12:30).

17.15 Video message by Flemish minister of Economy, Innovation, Work, Social economy and Agriculture: Jo Brouns and Closing speech by general administrator of Flanders Innovation & Entrepreneurship (VLAIO): Mark Andries

17.45 Reception @ the Expo 

We close on Tuesday 7 June 2022 with a reception in the exposition of SPA©E – The Human Quest. All registered participants are welcome to visit the exposition with a drink & snack. 


Day 2 - 08/06/2022

08.00 Breakfast break & Networking 

08.45 Plenary session 4 by prof. Haissam Jijakli (Gembloux Agro-Bio Tech) & Panel discussion (by all invited speakers)

10.15 Coffee break & Networking 

11.00 Plenary session 5 Space research as a catalyst for a better planet by Maarten Vandecruys (Urban Crop Solutions)

This presentation identifies the potential environmental effects indoor farming can have on air, water, and land. Starting from the learnings from space research, indoor farming methods are presented based on their structural requirements, methods of growing, media, nutrient sources, lighting requirements, facility capacity, and methods of climate control. The benefits and challenges facing indoor farming are also highlighted, followed by the transformative environmental effects that indoor farming may have on air, land, and water. Finally, this presentation closes with suggestions for additional research on indoor farming and its influence on the environment. 

11.30 Breakout session 1, 2, 3 & 4

Each participant will be invited to interact in the four sessions (see program day 1; 11:00 - 12:30).

13.00 Lunch & Networking 

14.00 Plenary session 6 Plant sensors and a 3D plant simulator to optimize wheat growth in SpaceBakery’s biosphere and beyond by Kathy Steppe (Ghent University)

The critical global challenge of our current generation is producing high-quality food with less land and less resources. On Earth or other planets, this implies using closed biosphere systems with full control of the environmental variables that determine plant growth and development. In this keynote talk, Ghent University will present pioneering technology –a unique combination of plant sensors and mechanistic plant modeling– that allows us to address this challenge like never before. Growth, whole-plant water use and early signs of non-optimal growth of wheat plants are measured in real-time with cutting-edge plant sensors. Advanced functional-structural plant modelling resulted in the development of a 3D wheat simulator. This virtual 3D-crop and technology can be used to determine the most optimal and sustainable way to grow wheat in SpaceBakery’s closed biosphere system and, by extension, in novel crop production systems and in space, the finale frontier.

14.30 Breakout session 1, 2, 3 & 4

Each participant will be invited to interact in the four sessions (see program day 1; 11:00 - 12:30).

16.00 Coffee Break & Networking 

16.30 Plenary session 7 SpaceBakery Insights for Developing Sustainable Foodtech Solutions and Food Products by Filip Arnaut (Puratos)

Puratos has the vision to go to bring bread to Mars. Its extreme conditions were the inspiration to target new ways to improve nutritional value, and the efficient use of energy & resources to produce bread.  It has guided us to develop “Food Innovation for Good” today on Earth and also to be prepared for tomorrow’s more challenging environments. Vertical farming together with advanced monitoring technologies allowed producing crops with a lower environmental footprint and by combining unique raw materials with traditional fermentation technology, a nutritious sourdough based bread product was created.

17.00 Reception


This event will be organised and hosted by Puratos, Flanders' FOOD, Urban Crop Solutions, Magics Instruments, SCK CEN, Ghent University and Hasselt University with the support of the Flemish space cluster Flanders Space and VLAIO.


The SpaceBakery Symposium is a two-day event. It is however possible to register only for day 1 or day 2.

  • Members spearhead cluster Flanders' FOOD: Free
  • Non-members spearhead cluster Flanders' FOOD: €70 /day
  • ALIMENTO FOR THE FOOD INDUSTRY provides a contribution to the registration costs of €70 per person per day (max. 3 persons from the same company).


This fee includes: 

  • Admittance to the Symposium
  • Meeting material
  • All coffee breaks and lunches
  • A reception in the exposition of SPA©E – The Human Quest (07/06/2022)

Registration info

The SpaceBakery Symposium is a two-day event. It is however possible to register only for day 1 or day 2.

Registration deadline:

  • Registration deadline 01/06/2022

Payment information:

  • You will receive a first e-mail with an automatic confirmation that the registration has been received. All payments should be made in advance in Euro (EUR, €) before the start of the event. The invoice will be sent to the e-mail address stated above in this form, including corresponding payment instructions. After payment you will receive a second email confirming that we have received your payment. Make sure to check your spam folder. If you don’t receive these emails, either your registration or payment was unsuccessful. Should this happen, please contact timothy [dot] lefeber [at] flandersfood [dot] com (timothy[dot]lefeber[at]flandersfood[dot]com)
  • Be aware that unpaid reservations can be cancelled by the SpaceBakery Conference Office before the start of the event.

Cancellation information:

  • The conference office must be notified in writing of cancellation of registration. Please send possible changes for registrations and cancellations by email to timothy [dot] lefeber [at] flandersfood [dot] com (timothy[dot]lefeber[at]flandersfood[dot]com)
  • For cancellations made until 01/06/2022: payment will be fully refunded. For cancellations after 01/06/2022 no refunds will be made and an administrative fee of €100 will be charged.
  • No-show fee: €100. To avoid this fee you can send a colleague to the event.


There are plenty of options for your accommodation in Antwerp. Hotels, bed & breakfasts and youth hostels will all warmly welcome you in Antwerp. 

Share this event