Agri Tech Opportunities Archives - Agri-EPI Centre

Agri Tech Opportunities

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International Women In Engineering Day #IWED21

Today is International Women In Engineering Day, a day which celebrates the amazing work that women engineers around the world are doing.

Agri-EPI’s support agri-tech innovation at three key stages; pre-farmgate development, commercial farm applications and primary product quality. In this post we wanted to highlight three women on International Women in Engineering Day who engineer solutions to enhance agriculture and the environment.

Dr. Sophie Purser, MIRICO 
Sophie began her career as a chemist working as a scientist and then Business Development Manager for a speciality chemicals company in Oxfordshire. She then moved briefly to working with medical devices, before joining MIRICO in 2019 as Commercial Manager. MIRICO are using a revolutionary new technology for gas analysis and want to bring the benefits of the technology to those working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Dr Paula Misiewicz MSc MEng PhD AMIAgrE, Senior lecturer in Soil and Water Management, Harper Adams University

Dr Paula’s research interests are centered around Soil and Water Management and Precision Farming. Current research projects are focused on exploring traffic and tillage interactions using field scale experiments:

Conventional tyre inflation pressure
Low tyre inflation pressure
Controlled traffic farming
Deep, shallow and zero tillage systems
I am also interested in soil mechanics, specifically in soil and tyre interractions: The Evaluation of The Soil Pressure Distribution and Carcass Stiffness Resulting from Pneumatic Agricultural Tyres.

Current PhD supervision: 2 students

Dr Alex Cooke CEnv, MIAgrE is another notable recent PhD (hers from Cranfield) who is having an impact in the Water Management sector. She is the Principal Catchment Scientist at Severn Trent Water and leads their Catchment Management team. She recently presented a ‘lunchtime lecture’ for IAgrE (as well as a guided tour of a water treatment plant for IAgrE members pre-Covid). In her lecture last week she explained how ‘nature-based solutions’ are being adopted as business-as-usual within the water and wastewater industry to deliver assets that provide more for the communities they serve, and the wider environment. This is building on her PhD research which examined “Compost filter socks to control sediment and phosphorus losses from arable land associated with extreme rainfall events”. Farming for Water – Nature based solutions – Dr Alex Cooke CEnv MIAgrE – YouTube

A thank you to The Douglas Bomford Trust for highlighting Dr Paula Misiewicz MSc MEng PhD AMIAgrE, Senior lecturer in Soil and Water Management, Harper Adams University and Dr Alex Cooke MIAgrE CEnv: Catchment Management Scientist.

The objective of The Douglas Bomford Trust is to advance knowledge, understanding, practice, and competence in the application of engineering and technology to achieve sustainable agricultural, food and biological systems for the benefit of the environment and mankind.

As agriculture continues to embrace technology the risk of cyber attacks is increasing

We spoke to Agri-EPI member Chris Milnes from Partner& to find out about risks to agri-tech businesses around cyber security.

The last year has transformed the business environment in which we all work. As we have all had to get used to a new way of working, those with more nefarious aims and ambitions have also had to pivot, and we have seen a huge spike in cyber-attacks.

Over the past 12 months

  • 88 percent of businesses have reported a breach of their IT systems.
  • One small business has been hacked every 19 seconds in the UK
  • 37 percent of businesses in the UK have reported a data breach to the ICO

The cost associated with these breaches can be huge, both directly and indirectly

  • A third of all businesses said that they have lost clients due to cyber breach
  • 41% of customers said they would never return to a business that had suffered a cyber attack.
  • The average cost of a ransomware attack is nearly £600,000, and 48% of businesses have reported being subject to an attack of this variety.
  • Investors are increasingly looking at firms cyber security/defences as part of their due diligence


Agricultural firms are quickly turning to ‘smart farming’ and ‘precision farming’ and therefore becoming reliant on technology to run their machines and equipment.  The ‘Locking’ of these systems due to a cyber-attack could lead to a loss of production, spoiled stock (severity determined by food type), compromised integrity of quality control systems, unfulfilled customer contracts with traders and processors, project delays…and most importantly, very expensive system damage costs to rebuild the systems and get back up and running again.

For many of the firms in the Agri Epi ecosystem they are fully reliant on their intellectual property, and whilst they are at the start of their journey, a breach could be catastrophic for the business. We are seeing ransom demands well into the millions when technology has been compromised.   Equally, because agriculture is so heavily dependent on seasonality and have a very small harvesting window, a cyber-attack during these periods as the ability to wipe an entire year’s revenues.

Some of the food network technologies being used that are susceptible to an attack include:

  • Online portals for rural payments and livestock tracking
  • SCADA production systems
  • HVAC systems in livestock farms, production lines
  • Agricultural machinery
  • Smart sensors for soil moisture, weather stations
  • Logistics management software

Given agricultural firms are a crucial component of the supply chain, firms will be working with multiple vendors and suppliers leading to frequent and high cost inbound/outbound fund transfer payments.  Malicious actors will often look to intercept these and conduct a classic social engineering scam diverting funds elsewhere.


The threat from Cyber Criminals is ever evolving and increasing, and is underestimated by firms across all sectors. Only 1 in 3 firms currently buy any level of cyber insurance, and we estimate that only 1 in 11 firms buy the right level of cover.

Due to the increase in claims there is an increasing realisation from larger corporates that they have to invest in cyber security defences, and as such we are seeing a substantial increase in budgets to combat the risks –we are seeing cyber criminals pivot again to attack smaller firms, where the size of the prize may be lower but they are easier prey

The team at Partners & are keen to help their clients understand the ever-increasing threat around cyber attacks and as such we’ve invested substantially in our offering around cyber risk. One of the key tools that we have access to can run a non-invasive report on your website, which enables you to see what gaps cyber criminals may look to exploit – many of which are easy to fix

We’re keen to support the Agri Epi community and if you’d like for us to run one of these reports, free of charge, or discuss anything else around cyber risk and insurance, please drop us an email or call


Partners& aims to be the best insurance advisory business in the UK, providing expert advice that makes a real difference across business insurance, management and employee benefits.

Partners& services cover the energy and renewables, food and drink, manufacturing, retail and wholesale, science and technology and waste management sectors, among others.

Contact: 07917028965

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.