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.”

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.

Agri-EPI Centre supports world’s first advanced training centre in agri-food robotics

Agri-EPI Centre is supporting the world’s first advanced training centre in agri-food robotics launched by the University of Lincoln, UK, in collaboration with the University of Cambridge and the University of East Anglia.

The new Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) for agri-food robotics will create the largest ever cohort of Robotics and Autonomous Systems (RAS) specialists for the global food and farming sectors, thanks to a multi-million pound funding award.

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) has awarded £6.6m for the new Centre which will see a massive influx of high-level robotics expertise at a vital time for the agri-food industry.

The CDT will provide funding and training for at least 50 doctoral students, who will be supported by major industry partners and specialise in areas such as autonomous mobility in challenging environments, the harvesting of agricultural crops, soft robotics for handling delicate food products, and ‘co-bots’ for maintaining safe human-robot collaboration and interaction in farms and factories.

Agri-EPI Centre’s role will be to facilitate students’ access to its industry and academic partners.

Professor Tom Duckett, Professor of Robotics and Autonomous Systems at Lincoln, is the new Centre Director. He said: “Automation and robotics technologies are set to transform global industries – within the UK alone they will add £183bn to the economy over the next decade. Agri-food is the largest manufacturing sector in the UK – twice the scale of automotive and aerospace combined – supporting a food chain, from farm to fork, which generates a Global Value Added (GVA) of £108bn, with 3.9m employees in a truly international industry.

“However, the global food chain is under pressure from population growth, climate change, political pressures affecting migration, population drift from rural to urban regions, and the demographics of an ageing population in advanced economies. Addressing these challenges requires a new generation of highly skilled RAS researchers and leaders, and our new CDT will be dedicated to delivering those expertise. It will be a real focal point for robotics innovation in the UK.”

Agri-EPI Centre Chief Executive Dave Ross said: “This exciting project has strong synergies with our existing academic partners and will help greatly in the development of advanced robotic and engineering technologies for the agri-food sector. Our consultation with industry continuously indicates that there is a critical shortage of highly trained robotics and autonomous system engineers to meet future anticipated demand. The PhDs resulting from this project will have a significant impact. We look forward to connecting the students with our wider industry and academic partners for mutual benefit.”

Read the full press release from the University of Lincoln.


Food security – UK priorities, supporting domestic production and driving innovation

Agri-EPI’s CTO to present

Dr Shamal Mohammed, Agri-EPI’s CTO will be delivering a presentation on technological developments and innovation in agri-food in improving productivity at this year’s Westminster Food & Nutrition Forum Policy Conference: Food security – UK priorities, supporting domestic production and driving innovation on Monday 30th November 2020.

The Conference, which will be held online, will examine key issues for food security and UK supply chain.

Other keynote presenters include Minette Batters, President, NFU; Anna Taylor, Executive Director, The Food Foundation and Chief Independent Adviser, National Food Strategy; Jack Ward, Chief Executive, British Growers Association; and more.


8.30: Registration
9.00: Chair’s opening remarks – Senior Parliamentarian
9.05: Food Security – the global context and the impact of the pandemic. Senior speaker to be announced
9.20: Key issues for food security and UK supply chain – developing an Environmental Land Management (ELM) scheme that supports domestic food production, maintains standards and aids sector recovery from the pandemic Minette Batters, President, NFU
9.35: Questions and comments from the floor
9.55: Break
10.00: Stakeholder perspectives on UK food security – the impact of Brexit, meeting environmental targets, and developing funding and regulatory mechanisms to support production

  • Anna Taylor, Executive Director, The Food Foundation and Chief Independent Adviser, National Food Strategy
  • Jack Ward, Chief Executive, British Growers Association
  • Vicki Hird, Sustainable Farming Campaign Coordinator, Sustain
  • Neil Shand, Interim Chief Executive, National Beef Association
  • Sarah Blanford, Organic, Crop, and Data Manager, Sainsbury’s

Questions and comments from the floor
11.15:  Chair’s closing remarks -Senior Parliamentarian
11.20: Break
11.30: Chair’s opening remarks – Senior Parliamentarian
11.35: Improving land use, supply chain efficiency and the road to net zero – Senior representative, sustainability
11.40: The effect of moves towards sustainable diets on UK food security and climate targets – managing the transition, adapting to consumer trends and opportunities for novel foods – Christian Reynolds, Senior Lecturer, Centre for Food Policy, City, University of London; Senior representative, food industry
12.00: The role of developments in agri-food and crop science in improving productivity – innovation, regulation and supporting sector growth – Dr Shamal Mohammed, Chief Technical Officer, Agri-EPI Centre; Senior representative, crop science
12.20: The impact of future trade negotiations – food standards, access to markets and meeting global commitments
12.30: Senior commentator
Questions and comments from the floor
12.55: Chair’s and Westminster Food & Nutrition Forum closing remarks -Senior Parliamentarian, Michael Ryan, Deputy Editor, Westminster Food & Nutrition Forum

Register now: