International - Agri-EPI Centre - Engineering Precision Innovation

International

Agri-EPI collaborates with growers and scientists around the world. Partnering on international projects, as well as initiatives throughout the UK. Supporting agriculture, horticulture and aquaculture, Agri-EPI explores and delivers precision farming engineering, technology and innovation. Discover more about our international collaborations and projects.

Jane Lycett joins Agri-EPI Centre

Jane Lycett has joined the Agri-EPI Centre team as our new International Business Development Manager.

Born on a Shropshire dairy farm, Jane graduated from the Agriculture Department at Reading University. She worked in dairy sales before pursuing a career in business support, funding and inward investment. For the past decade she has worked with the Department for International Trade, initially based in the British Embassy in Paris and then in the UK, to work for DIT’s Investment Services Team. More recently she worked as their Agri-food Specialist.

Through her role with DIT, Jane worked closely with the Agri-EPI Centre, and since joining the AEC team as International Business Development Manager last month, has continued to develop international relationships and identify collaboration opportunities with overseas partners. This includes leading on the International SmartFarm initiative to support efficient and sustainable approaches to farming and food production across a range of countries, working with UK agri-tech innovators.

“I’m looking forward to identifying opportunities to deploy world class UK agri-tech expertise overseas and also collaborate with companies from other part of the globe – working with the hugely talented and dedicated team at Agri EPI Centre” – Jane Lycett, International Business Development Manager at Agri-EPI Centre

Swiss crop electrophysiology specialist Vivent is a registered B Corporation™

The ‘Fitbit of plants’, Vivent’s PhytlSigns device, the first commercial crop health diagnostic system based on plant electrophysiology, has been certified as a B Corp – a Certified Benefit Corporation – after meeting rigorous social and environmental standards which represent its commitment to do business in a meaningful way, by pursuing purpose as well as profit. Vivent’s technology leads to increased yields, improved crop protection effectiveness, and encourages the adoption of environmentally preferable protection solutions – so more food, less chemicals. With recertification every three years, Vivent has embarked on a process that aims at ever higher standards and continuous improvement.     

The B Corp Certification covers the whole business – five key impact areas of Governance, Workers, Community, Environment and Customers. The certification process is rigorous, the company has to score over 80 points and provide evidence of socially and environmentally responsible practices – including energy supplies, waste and water use, worker compensation, diversity and corporate transparency. To complete the certification, Vivent had to legally embed their commitment to purpose beyond profit in their company articles. Vivent scored 101.7 in its overall B impact score. 50.9 is the median for ordinary uncertified businesses.

Vivent is now part of a community of over 4500+ businesses globally who have certified as B Corps. The B Corp Community is reflective of the global economy with businesses from a cross section of industries and sizes. These include well-known brands like innocent, Patagonia, Alpro, Triodos Bank, Alessi, and Ecoalf. Recent attention on the agriculture and agritech sectors makes Vivent’s B Corp Certification a notable step, and signals a shift towards greater accountability and transparency. Vivent joins Swiss agritech companies Ecorobotix and CleanGreens as well as 60 other Swiss B Corps.

Carrol Plummer, CEO of Vivent says: “The B Corp certification has been a goal of Vivent’s since its inception. The process was tough, but fair and really helped us to work on many aspects of organization management including our sustainability objectives and streamlining our mission.”

Jonathan Normand, Founder and CEO of B Lab™ Switzerland : “We are very pleased to welcome Vivent to the B Corp community.  As an innovative technology serving agriculture and research, we welcome their commitment to accelerate the transition in a collaborative approach to a resilient and stakeholder economy.”

There are currently 745 certified B Corps in Europe and 4500+ worldwide. Other agriculture and food industry B Corps include Ynsect, AppHarvest, Danone Canada, and Aerofarms.

About Vivent: 

Vivent was founded in 2012 by serial entrepreneurs Carrol Plummer and Dr. Nigel Wallbridge, who have now applied their information processing and telecommunication system skills to biological networking, with an initial focus on crop monitoring. The pair have worked with leading agricultural institutes, universities, crop protection companies and growers to validate this innovative approach. Vivent’s focus is on high-capital indoor growing operations with plans to move into high-value outdoor crops and then into large volume field crops. More information is available at www.vivent.ch 

About B Lab Switzerland

B Lab Switzerland is the Swiss branch of the global non-profit B Lab. B Lab is transforming the global economy to benefit all people, communities and the planet. As a leader in economic systems change, its global network creates standards, policies and tools for business. In addition, it certifies companies – known as B Corps – that are leading the way. To date, the community includes over 4,500 B Corps in 77 countries and 153 industries, over 8,000 benefit corporations, and 150,000 companies managing their impact with B Impact Assessment and SDG Action Manager.

For further information contact: team@agri-epicentre.com

 

Agri-EPI Centre supports online portal to boost UK agri-tech exports

Mike Freer MP, Minister for Exports formally launched a new portal to help the UK Agri-Tech industry export to new markets.  

The portal has been developed by the Department for International Trade and three UK Agri-Tech trade associations – UK Technology for Agriculture and Genetics (UK TAG), the Commercial Horticultural Association and the Agricultural Engineers Association. The Agri-Tech Centres sit on the portal the steering group alongside its founding organisations and Local Enterprise Partners in the Midlands Engine, Northern Powerhouse and South West. 

Business Development Director, Lisa Williams said: “Agri-EPI Centre, funded by Innovate UK, is pleased to support the launch of the international portal alongside our sister centre’s. The portal will provide a platform and an access point for overseas contacts that wish to understand and connect with world leading agri-tech companies based within the UK, whilst connecting with all partners on agri-tech matters – a growing market to support the sustainable agri-food sector.” 

By signing up to the platform, users will gain exclusive access to several ‘Meet the Buyer’ events each year, as well as the ability to communicate directly with international buyers through an internal messaging system.  The functionality of the directory allows users to search by sector, product and region. It also provides access to the UK Capability Brochures on agricultural engineering, companion pets, horticulture and livestock genetics published with our Trade Challenge Partners. 

Chris Jackson, Export Manager for UK TAG. Said:Post-Brexit, Britain has a unique opportunity to strengthen its position as a global hub of agricultural science and innovation, developing and exporting technological solutions to improve food production around the world, and attracting inward investment to support jobs and economic activity at home.”  

It is vital that we tell the world what we’re good at, and this new website will help us to get the message out there that the UK produces some of the best agricultural technology and help companies take advantage of future trade deals.” 

The Minister for Exports launched the portal at the meeting of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Science & Technology in Agriculture today (10.01.22), where he spoke of the need for the UK to shout more loudly about the UK’s leading agri-tech expertise and capabilities in order to boost exports. 

 

Land And Grow: Agri-Tech Opportunities in China

Agri-EPI Centre’s Land & Grow series of webinars are designed to introduce agri-tech innovators in the UK to the wealth of opportunities available to them in China, helping them to understand the Chinese agriculture sector and connect with Chinese farmers. But what makes China such an exciting destination for agri-tech?

As one of the largest economies in the world, China offers companies in the software, hardware, robotics, biotech and IoT sectors a chance to explore a huge market with even bigger demand for agri-tech; both investors and the Chinese government are actively seeking expertise from abroad to provide smart solutions that are able to upgrade China’s agri-food supply chain.

China faces a number of food security challenges, starting with its population of 134 million people, all of whom need to be sustainably fed. From precision farming to reduce waste and enhance food safety to connected livestock management, agri-tech solutions that provide ways to feed China’s growing population are in high demand.

What makes China’s agrifood sector unique?

The Chinese governments recently outlined a policy seeking to bridge the divide between the urban and rural populations by 2025, aiming to unite disparate digital technology and lift many rural Chinese residents out of poverty. As well as significant investment in infrastructure, Chinese authorities have set their sights on boosting agricultural production – and tech is at the heart of that objective.

Unlike much of the West, China doesn’t have to struggle with legacy technology systems and upgrading existing digital infrastructure, enabling them to implement new tech such as 5G much faster than many European countries and the US.

This enables China to rapidly implement ambitious agrifood projects, with just some of the initiatives listed in the “Digital Agriculture and Rural Area Development Plan 2019-2025” including agricultural robots to increase the productivity and efficiency of fishing, AI to monitor crop yields and improve livestock care and quality and incorporating drones and satellites to better leverage data and decision making across the entire supply chain.

Unlocking agri-tech opportunities in China

Building on our experience working on agri-tech solutions in China, and in collaboration with 8 Hours Ahead, specialists in business development in China, Agri-EPI Centre is hosting a webinar on June 23rd inviting agri-tech innovators to learn more about the incredible opportunities China can offer engineers, scientists and manufacturers.

The webinar offers an in-depth exploration of the Chinese agtech market, from identifying key challenges facing Chinese farmers to financial and commercial support available from the UK and Chinese governments to facilitate international agri-tech solutions.

You can find out more about the webinar, and sign up to attend, on our dedicated events page.

UK-China SmartFarm partnership takes next steps

Utilising UK technology in China

Agri-EPI Centre and one of China’s largest food companies, the Tianjin Food Group, have today signed a collaboration agreement to develop a smart farming project utilising UK technology in China to boost early disease detection and productivity monitoring in pigs.

The project, called “SmartFarm 1.5”, will involve Agri-EPI and UK companies RoboScientific, Greengage Lighting and Innovent Technology, working with pork producers for the Tianjin Food Group in north eastern China. It is being funded by Innovate UK from the UK and supported locally by the Tianjin Food Group.

China SmartFarm partners

China SmartFarm concept

The new project is a continuation of the SmartFarm concept developed in China by Agri-EPI Centre, which seeks to develop international collaboration to support efficient and sustainable approaches to farming and food production.

The first SmartFarm project looked at precision-based approaches to nitrogen application in wheat production. It ran successfully between 2018 and 19, co-sponsored by Innovate UK, led by Agri-EPI and involving UK companies SoilEssentials and RDS, with autonomous and measurement systems contribution from University of Strathclyde. The Chinese partner organisations were NERCITA, the National Engineering Research Centre for Information Technology in Agriculture and the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technologies China Rural Technology Development Centre (CRTDC).

Following the successful delivery of this inaugural project, Agri-EPI and the Tianjin Food Group agreed to explore further opportunities, resulting in today’s signing of an agreement at the 4th Tianjin World Intelligence Congress.

Agri-EPI Centre Chief Executive Dave Ross said:

“We are honoured to be taking China SmartFarm to the next level by working with the Tianjin Food Group to deliver this important project. China is the world’s

largest producer and consumer of pork and technology and to support better productivity and earlier disease detection has significant potential economic benefits. Agri-EPI is excited to be building relationships with a range of international partners, in China – as well as New Zealand and Paraguay – in delivering SmartFarm projects.”

Committee Secretary and Chairman of Tiajin Food Group Zhang Yong said:

“Agri-EPI Centre is an important part of UK Research and Innovation. It has the world’s leading level in precision agriculture, the application of engineering technology in the entire agricultural industry chain, and the application of agricultural robots. With the continuous development of 5G, Internet of Things, artificial intelligence and other intelligent technologies, agriculture has entered the era of intelligence. Precision feeding, precise management, real-time disease monitoring, and automatic environmental adjustment are all improving the level of agricultural production. At this critical historical opportunity, we hope to co-operate sincerely with the British side, make full use of their respective advantages, jointly develop and demonstrate the promotion of smart agricultural technology, and contribute to the progress of global agricultural technology.”

Alasdair Hamilton, Head of the Science and Innovation Team at the British Embassy, Beijing said:

“Partnerships in agricultural technologies that support sustainable, environmentally friendly farming is a priority area for science and innovation cooperation between the UK and China. The production of sustainable food with a low carbon footprint is a global necessity. It is therefore a pleasure to see that the MOU between Agri-EPI and the Tianjin Food Company will deepen cooperation in data driven technologies that will improve how we farm and produce nutritious food.”

Ian Cox, Innovate UK’s Agri-Tech Centres Innovation Lead said:

“I am delighted that this SmartFarm 1.5 collaboration agreement has been signed today. It marks the next step for both countries working together under our prestigious Flagship Challenge to address the global challenges facing the agriculture and food sectors. This follows on from SmartFarm 1.0 an initiative that formed a key output of the UK China Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy’s Agri-Tech Flagship Challenge, and which was a direct result of an earlier MoU signed between CRTDC and Innovate UK in November 2016.”

The new SmartFarm 1.5 project builds on a long history of UK-China co-operation in agricultural research and innovation. The relationship was enhanced in 2017 with the signing of the UK-China Science Technology and Innovation Strategy. SmartFarm is a core part of one of the strategy’s major deliverables, the Agri-Tech Flagship Challenge.

Food security and increasing farmers’ income remain a primary importance in China’s agriculture and rural policies. Technology plays a key role in the government’s plan to achieve this, with more investment being directed at deploying large agri-tech research programmes and innovation systems.

China’s approach to agricultural innovation overlaps many of the UK’s priorities including those set out in the Industrial Strategy.

On June 30, join Agri-EPI Centre, in partnership with 8 Hours Ahead, for a webinar exploring agri-tech opportunities in China. For more and to register, visit: www.agri-epicentre.com/land-and-grow-the-agri-tech-china-opportunity.

For further information, please contact Jane Smernicki, Agri-EPI Centre Communications Manager on 0131 239 7030, 07985 691 765 or jane.smernicki@agri-epcentre.com.

Webinar agri-tech opportunities in Columbia

International collaboration

The diverse opportunities in Colombia available to UK agri-tech companies is the focus of an Agri-EPI Centre webinar on Thursday 23 April.

Agri-EPI’s Director of Business Development Lisa Williams, who will co-host the webinar, was part of a recent trade mission to Colombia, organised by the Prosperity Fund, the Knowledge Transfer Network and the International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT). During a tour of the country, Lisa witnessed first-hand the many opportunities, particularly those associated with fruit, coffee, livestock and cocoa supply chains.

Lisa said:

“There is so much potential in Colombia for UK agri-tech businesses. At present, there is a significant gap in yield between the smallest and largest producers and technology is needed to help fill the gap.

“It’s clear that the Colombian government and its agri-food sector want to increase food production, but, crucially, they want to achieve this sustainably, meaning technology has a huge role to play in increasing precision and efficiency across all sectors. The various organisations I met are extremely interested in working with UK agri-tech companies so there is a huge opportunity in this diverse country.”

Agri-tech in Colombia

Colombia is the third largest Latin American country by population (49.8m) and the fourth largest by GDP. It had an average economic growth of over 4% between 2001 and 2017 and grew 2.7% in 2018. Ranked third in Latin America and the Caribbean for “ease of doing business” in 2017 by World Bank and the IMF, Colombia has access to 60 countries and more than 1.5 billion consumers through its network of trade agreements. Some of these agreements include the US, Canada, the EU, and South Korea.

Hosting the webinar with Lisa will be representatives from the British Embassy Colombia, Catapult Satellite Applications and Knowledge Transfer Network.

The speakers will provide an overview of findings from the trade mission and how UK agri-tech companies can respond to the needs of the Colombian agri-food supply chain. There will also be information about Colombia’s major trade show, ‘Expo Agrofuturo’, which, coronavirus restrictions allowing, is planned for August this year.

More information and sign up details for the webinar can be found here.

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