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Innovative agri-tech companies invited to enter inaugural Agri-Tech Excellence Awards

From yield-boosting robotic milkers to disease-detecting arable drones, the rapid growth of on-farm technology is helping farmers around the world boost their productivity, sustainability and profit.

In celebration of the power of innovation, Agri-EPI Centre, is inviting the most forward thinking small to medium-sized agri-tech companies to enter the inaugural Agri-Tech Excellence Awards.

What are the Agri-Tech Excellence Awards?

Sponsored by Leyton, Kubota, Barclays, Syngenta and Marks & Spencer, the awards will recognise the ground-breaking work of agri-tech companies that have had significant impact on sustainable productivity on-farm, in the UK and internationally, between January 2019 and January 2021.

To be eligible for the awards, companies must have taken their innovations beyond the development stage and be supplying their technology commercially on-farm.

The awards have two categories:

  • Category 1: Agri-tech Excellence demonstrated on a UK farm
  • Category 2: Agri-tech Excellence demonstrated on an international farm (based outside of the UK)

Entries will be judged against a number of areas: impact on productivity, health and welfare; impact on environmental protection and enhancement; and business efficiencies.

Judges & winners

The judging panel will comprise experts in the field of sustainable agri-food and innovation. It will include representatives of the awards sponsors and Charles Nicklin, Chief Executive of the Institution of Agricultural Engineers (IAgrE) and Andy Newbold, Director of Farm Smart Publishing and Farm Smart Events, with more to be announced.

The winners of each category will be announced during Agri-EPI’s national conference on the September 30, which is attended by a large audience of companies and organisations involved sustainable agri-food.

Agri-EPI Centre Chief Executive Dave Ross said: “The UK has a vibrant and dynamic agri-tech sector.  The UK private investment into the agri-food tech sector is also on the march – and we are European leader in this regard. Agri-EPI is pleased to be involved in catalysing new innovations and our awards seek to celebrate the success that agri-tech companies are achieving in all sectors of farming. We’re very excited to have first class sponsors and an expert judging panel supporting the awards and we look forward to receiving what will no doubt be very high quality entries from a diverse range of companies.”

About the Agri-Tech Excellence Awards sponsors

Agri-EPI Centre is delighted to have such fantastic sponsors on board supporting the inaugural agri-tech event and helping to promote the importance of innovation in agri-tech.

Kubota

Kubota, a agricultural machinery manufacturer, also expressed their pleasure at being a part of the Awards. Business Development Manager Daria Batukhtina, from the Kubota Innovation Centre Europe, highlighted the importance of innovation in resolving “the increasingly serious problems faced by agriculture on a global scale” and Kubota’s dedication to “promoting smart agriculture that realizes ultra-labour saving, high-quality and high-efficiency cultivation by utilising robotics technology and ICT.”

Daria added: “We support agriculture throughout the world by working closely with farmers and developing agricultural machinery that meets their needs in the field. There are many partners throughout the world with advanced technologies that will have a tremendous impact on society in the future. Therefore Kubota joined Agri-EPI Centre Awards for agtech start-ups to support those SMEs that have had significant impact on sustainable productivity on-farm.”

Syngenta

Syngenta’s Digital Agriculture Manager, Sam Grimsdell, noted that innovation in agri-tech will be “instrumental in the continued drive to sustainable agriculture that delivers the efficient and profitable production we need, alongside the protection of essential environmental resources.”

“Through the Agri-Tech Excellence Awards we are actively seeking to help and reward inspiring entrepreneurs to develop their ideas that can be practically implemented on farms. As a global business, Syngenta is committed to investing in sustainable agriculture and delivering the key breakthroughs to make that happen in the UK and across the world. We would urge all innovators exploring this incredibly exciting area to get involved in the Awards.”

Barclays

Also supporting the Agri-Tech Excellence Awards is Barclays bank, which has been involved in many agricultural projects in recent years. Oliver McEntye, Barclays’ National Agricultural Strategy Director for Barclays said: “Barclays is proud to sponsor the Agri-EPI Centre Awards, not only to recognise the achievements of the entrants and winners, but also to help inspire the next generation of innovators to bring the technology for the farming of the future.”

M&S

Marks & Spencer described their interest in the Agri-Tech Excellence Awards as a way to “celebrate businesses that have made a significant sustainable impact on-farm” and opening up a wider discussion of UK agriculture: “British agriculture is probably seeing the biggest period of change in generations, as we adapt to new trade deals, agricultural support and consumer awareness of animal welfare and the environment,” said Steve McLean, Head of Agriculture & Fisheries Sourcing at M&S.

“Success will come from embracing new ways of farming, being more meaningful to consumers, and continuing to produce quality food in a climate-friendly way … We look forward to seeing the entries.”

Leyton

Founded in 2009, Leyton, is the UK’s largest specialist innovation funding consultancy. To date, their teams of highly qualified tax and technical experts have helped thousands of businesses to successfully claim more than £880 million in tax relief. Agri-EPI Centre and Leyton are proud partners working together to connect agri-tech companies with funding, finance and tax relief to help  bring their agri-tech solutions to market – find out more here.

Enter the Agri-Tech Excellence Awards

  • To enter, please complete the online form on the Agri-EPI website. The deadline is Friday 30th July at 12pm.
  • You will be asked to submit evidence for the social, environmental and economic benefits for impact on farm.
  • A shortlist of entries will be agreed, and a representative from each shortlisted company will be invited for a short on-line interview with the judging panel on Thursday September 9 2021.
  • If you have any questions, please contact awards@agri-epicentre.com

 

 

Innovation Week 2021: Five days celebrating innovation in agritech

Agri-EPI Centre’s Innovation Week 2021 may have taken place entirely online, but the expertise of the speakers and the fantastic response from attendees ensured the week was a huge success.

In five webinars over five days, we were joined by more than 15 speakers from across the agritech sector discussing the latest innovations and advancements in agricultural technology, from robotics and AI to crop sensing and animal health monitoring.

The event was a chance to bring together everyone and anyone with an interest in agritech innovation; we were joined by engineers, manufacturers, investors, business owners and academics eager to learn about the exciting projects Agri-EPI Centre has been involved in around the world.

A webinar a day

For the first session to kick off Innovation Week we explored the use of agritech to monitor animal behaviour and improve the health of livestock on-farm, and were joined by Dr. Chris Cormack of Quant Foundry, Gary McCarten of Pocket Sized Hands and Dr Rick D’Eath from the SRUC.

You can watch Monday’s Innovation Week webinar below.

Discussion covered the Behaviour Analytics Project, looking at how AI methods and analytics can be combined to offer farmers crucial insights into animal health, as well as the SmARtview and Tail Tech projects which, although currently in their infancy, have huge potential to improve farmers’ decision making using technology to closely monitor the animals’ wellbeing, whilst also improving the productivity and efficiency of farms.

Tuesday’s webinar explored how robotics, drones and ultra-fine bubble technology can be utilised in agriculture to increase the accuracy of yield prediction, prevent grain loss in storage and improve the efficiency and precision of crop spraying. Jared Bainbridge from Omega Crop opened the session, followed by presentations from Crover’s Lorenzo Conti and Professor Anthony Furness, of MagGrow.

You can watch Tuesday’s Innovation Week webinar below.

Wednesday’s presentations on increasing the productivity, quality and consistency of livestock across the entire supply chain. Andrew Loftus, Carol-Anne Duthie and Diego Sprekelsen, the team behind the OPTI-BEEF project, discussed how their work is contributing to improved sustainability and quality in beef production, as well as how the Agri-Tech Innovation Hubs supported both OPTI-BEEF and Healthy Heifer.

You can watch Wednesday’s Innovation Week webinar below.

 

Towards the end of the week the webinars explored broader topics in the agrifood sector. Thursday’s discussion of how the incredible work of SmartFarms around the world, in partnership with academic institutions and government bodies, is supporting farmers across the globe to improve productivity and earnings, was followed by Friday’s session on aquaculture lead by Greg Riddle of Northern Light Consulting.

You can watch Thursday’s Innovation Week webinar below.

From reducing pollution and minimising the environmental impact of fish farms to insights from Innovation Week 2021’s partner, Leyton, on how agritech innovators can source funding and tax relief to get their solutions to market, the final day of Innovation Week 2021 rounded off the week’s webinars perfectly.

You can watch Friday’s Innovation Week webinar below.

Until next time!

We’d like to say a huge thank you to all our speakers, including Agri-EPI Centre staff who did a fantastic job chairing the sessions, and also to the guests and attendees and anyone following along on Twitter. We were treated to 15 fantastic presentations and some really engaging discussion at the end of each session, inspired by insightful questions from the audience.

For information on Innovation Week 2022, and to keep up with all upcoming events from Agri-EPI Centre, make sure you’re following us on Twitter or keep an eye on our dedicated events page

Proudly supporting Scotland’s inaugural A3 conference

Animal health, agri-tech and aquaculture

Agri-EPI is proud to be sponsoring a major global conference focused on encouraging innovation, investment and collaboration in animal health and sustainable food production. 

The inauagural A3 Scotland event takes place in Edinburgh between 30 September and 1 October this year. ‘A3’ refers to animal health, agri-tech and aquaculture.  

The theme of the conference is ‘transition to net zero’. It will bring together industry, investors and policymakers from around the world to discuss strategic partnerships and discover the latest R&D. 

A3 Sponsors

The not-for-profit event is being organised by the Roslin Innovation Centre, in partnership with the University of Edinburgh, the University’s Roslin Institute, Midlothian Science Zone, the Scottish Government and Scottish Enterprise. Agri-EPI and its fellow UK agri-tech innovation centre CIEL are amongst the event’s sponsors and are providing input to the programme. 

A3 recognition

With the largest cluster of animal bioscience/aquaculture researchers in Europe, Scotland is already a global player in the ‘A3’ sectorRoslin is an internationally recognised named in the field of life sciences, not least because and is the birthplace of Dolly the Sheep, the first animal to be cloned from an adult cell. 

The conference programme offers two core days (30 Sept. to 01 Oct.) of expert speakers from across the sectors, panel discussions and networking opportunities. Wrapped around this are optional pre-and post-conference tours showcasing some of Scotland’s world class A3 facilities and expertise. 

Agri-EPI Centre’s Chief Executive, Dave Ross said:  

“It is very exciting that the inaugural A3 conference is taking place on the doorstep of our Northern Hub in Edinburgh. This looks set to be a major and influential global event and it is being held in a very apt location given the fact that Scotland, and the Roslin area in particular, are internationally recognised as having strengths in A3, both in the research and commercial environments.

We’re very pleased to be involved and would like to encourage any of our members and partners with an interest in the theme covered by the event to sign up.”

Interested?

For more information and to register for A3 Scotland 2020, the inaugural conference for the Animal Health, Agritech and Aquaculture (AAA) sectors, please visit: bit.ly/A3Scotland.

Stay informed

Keep up to date with the latest impact and results of our work, plus, news, innovation and approaches across the sector. Read our latest news and Agri-EPI blogs.

New venture for Agri-EPI at Dairy-Tech 2020

Agri-EPI is for the first time exhibiting at the major Dairy-Tech event

Taking place at Stoneleigh Park, Coventry on February 5, this one-day event showcases ground-breaking concepts and innovation.

Agri-EPI is teaming up with partners Glas Data and AgSenze to showcase technology at the event’s Innovation Hub – find them there at 10.55am.

Head of Dairy, Duncan Forbes, will be giving a talk about the ground-breaking activities taking place at the Agri-EPI South West Dairy Development Centre in Somerset, such as the use of 5G connectivity for improved health and welfare, precision grazing trials and automated milking systems.

The partners will also exhibit at the stand, where visitors can learn more about each company as well as new projects, trials and technologies supporting sustainable milk production.

Lisa Williams, Agri-EPI’s Director of Business Development said:

“We see this is a key event for us so are looking forward to being there. Due to the transformation in the dairy industry over recent years, it’s becoming increasingly apparent that farmers need to be competitive and irrespective of their system type and market they supply. Regardless of their cost base, future successful dairy businesses must be informed, resilient, proactive and efficient. Dairy-Tech provides this platform, alongside a recognition that dairy farming has become a professional industry.

If you would like more information about our presence at the show, please contact Lisa by email or phone: 07950 697 212.

Agriculture, technology and the future of farming

The challenges of a growing population

The world’s population is expected to more than double by 2050, which will consequently result in a higher demand for food.

It has therefore fallen on the agriculture sector to develop new ways of meeting this demand, without compromising on the health of livestock and crops and, essentially, the quality of food produced. But the key question here is, How do we do this?

The answer: new technology.Partnership banner Future Farm Expo Farmers Weekly

Future Farm Technology expo

Events such as the Future Farm Technology expo (FFT), in association with Farmers Weekly, are held throughout the year to highlight the advanced technology being developed for tacking these issues head on. Key industry players and SMEs that operate within the industry attend and are invited to exhibit their game changing technologies.

Soil health 

It is now known that the use of more traditional and heavy machinery, as well as intense agriculture has had a knock on effect on the health of soil and its ability to support harvests in future farming. As a result of these finding companies, such as Lettus Grow and MycoNourish have developed new ways of harvesting crops, without the need for soil.

Both companies exhibited at this year’s Future Farm Technology expo (FFT) in November – as did Agri-Tech Centres CIEL, CHAP and Agrimetrics – and showcased their innovative ‘soil free’ systems.  Lettus Grow shared their next level solution to soil-free growing: aeroponics. Aeroponics sees the plant roots suspended in air and sprayed with a fine mist of nutrient solution, which significantly reduces the amount of fertiliser and water needed and increases the growth rate of a plant due to the high gaseous exchange around the roots.

UK AgriTech Centres banner

MycoNourish take a slightly different approach that tackles those plants that do not benefit or thrive from Lettus Grow’s aeroponic approach. MycoNourish uses knowledge to produce bespoke formulations, tailored to individual plant species. They compare their research to a ‘dating agency’, which essentially pairs plants up with their ‘perfect match’, i.e. fungal partners. Why do they do this? The theory is that strong fungal networks surrounding plant roots will help mitigate against challenging environmental conditions that will essentially result in more stable yields.

Agri-EPI at the FFT

With higher demand comes higher responsibility, and with that comes precision farming – well, at least in the case of farmers it does.

Precision farming is the method in which farmers optimise inputs, such as water and fertiliser, to enhance the productivity, quality and yield of their crops. But this method is not only limited to soil and can be extended to other areas of farming, such as dairy, as Agri-EPI’s Head of Dairy Duncan Forbes explains:

“Sensor technology is being used to gather data to enable us to maximise precision in many aspects of feeding, production, health and welfare across the farm: indoors and outdoors, by satellite, and on and inside the cows. The automation of many processes within the dairy releases skilled staff to devote more of their time to cow health and welfare,”

Duncan shared his views at the FFT expo and spoke about the Agri EPI’s fully automated, 180-cow facility, the South West Dairy Development Centre (SWDDC) in Somerset. The SWDDC looks to offer a fresh vision for the UK dairy industry by providing a truly innovative environment that provides a platform to test and demonstrate new and emerging technologies that will help support future farming.

For more on the FFT expo and the other companies that attended, please visit: www.fstjournal.org.

Future Farm Expo 2019 impression

 

Agri-EPI at New Scientist Live

Together with Farmers Weekly, Agri-EPI Centre joined Agrimetrics, CIEL, CHAP and its partners GEA Group and RHIZA for the New Scientist Live festival in London today (10 October). The event, which is in its fourth year, has been recognised as Europe’s top science festival, and is expected to welcome a crowd of over 40,000 visitors in its four day run, 10 – 13 October.

Visitors to stall 611 at the Ag Pavilion, where the four Centres and partners are based, have the opportunity to witness first-hand the positive impact that technology has on the farming industry, and on the planet as a whole, as Tom Westerman, RHIZA Digital Manager, explains:

“Agriculture is a forward thinking technical industry and has got a huge role to play in the future of our planet, ensuring food security and sustainability.”

Demonstrations at New Scientist Live

During New Scientist Live, RHIZA is helping farmers tackle this face on with its Contour desktop and mobile app, which helps farmers identify their areas of better or worse crop and is on display at today’s festival, as are GEA Group, who have brought along their DairyRobot R9500.

The robot has been designed to automatically take care of premium quality milk and free up resources to make the farmer’s daily planning and routine more flexible and effective.

David Simmons, Head of Milking & Dairy Farming Sales at GEA Group, said of the event:

“We couldn’t agree more that technology is transforming the world of farming. It’s our absolute pleasure to show students and youngsters how fast-paced and high-tech the farming industry really is.”

Considering a career in agri-tech? Visit New Scientist Live!

It’s been anticipated that by 2025, the agricultural technology sector will be worth more than £136 billion globally. The UK Government is keen to contribute to this number, and in recent years, has invested in four agri-tech centres to lead in its efforts. The four Centres, Agri-EPI Centre, Agrimetrics, CHAP and CIEL, work collaboratively to harness leading UK research and expertise as well as build new infrastructure and innovation.

The Centres also work with leading partners to drive growth and offer support for innovative ideas and projects that help farmers and business owners become more profitable and sustainable. Naomi Smitten, Projects Co-ordinator for Agri-EPI explains:

“The projects are made up of experts from all industries focused on, but not limited to, Agriculture. Most of the companies that are involved in our projects are already operating organisations and/or universities. They don’t necessarily have the time or skill set to align a project.”

To date, the Centres have worked on a number of game-changing projects, such as Hands Free Farm with Harper Adams University and Precision Soil Mapping with partners Cranfield University, AgSpace, Innovate UK and The James Hutton Institute.

Event photo impression:

Stay informed

Keep up to date with the latest impact and results of our work, plus, news, innovation and approaches across the sector. Read our latest news and Agri-EPI blogs.

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