Around 140 key decision makers from industry, trade associations, policy and government agencies came together with the UK’s four Agri-Tech Centres on March 21st to discover the range of new technologies, partnerships, and facilities developed in the short period of time since the inception of the Centres.
Born out of the UK Agri-tech Strategy in 2013, the Agri-Tech Centres are a unique collaboration between Government, academia and industry to drive greater efficiency, resilience and wealth across the agrifood sector. A series of interactive short talks and discussions at the event demonstrated the progress made towards achieving this shared goal. The day was also an opportunity for delegates to make many useful new contacts and engage with the Centres directly to highlight and discuss current industry challenges.
A wide range of innovative capabilities were showcased, including those from CIEL that are available now and under development.
These included: The Mobile Sensory Meat laboratory (SRUC); C-DIAL facility (Newcastle University); Centre for Dairy Science Innovation (Nottingham University); Pig Research Facilities (University of Leeds); Large Animal Research & Imaging Facility (Roslin Insitute); Mobile CT (SRUC); Novel sensor systems for livestock including thermal imaging (AFBI); environmental monitoring of ruminants on the North Wyke Farm Platform (Rothamsted Research); pig housing (SRUC); and poultry capabilities across the CIEL developments at Bristol University and SRUC.
The innovation showcase extended to the latest dairy technologies developed through Agri-EPI; how LED lighting can improve crop productivity and some of the new applied assets coming on stream through the Crop Health and Protection Agri-Tech Centre (CHAP); and how the Agrimetrics Centre is helping in the field of big data.
Innovate UK gave an interesting talk about upcoming funding; the aims of government in making this available and how businesses can collaborate to access this funding. £90M will be available through the forthcoming Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.
The event provided the ideal platform for CIEL CEO Lyndsay Chapman to launch www.agritechcentres.com, a new website providing an inspiring and compelling summary of why the Agri-Tech Centres are so important to UK food and farming and what each Centre sets out to deliver.
“The day was a success,” says Lyndsay Chapman. “It was a great opportunity to meet with Members and demonstrate some of the new capabilities the government, through Innovate UK, has invested in. We received positive feedback and will look to hold a similar event elsewhere in the UK next year.”
The event was hosted in the Newport Hub in Shropshire, a new asset developed by Agri-EPI to increase farmer uptake of innovative technologies and to increase the overall benefits to UK farming. Amidst the current revolution in information technologies and engineering science, Agri-EPI is exploring how to optimise the performance of the highly complex production and processing systems in agriculture.