Midlands Agri-Tech Innovation Hub Archives - Agri-EPI Centre

Midlands Agri-Tech Innovation Hub

Tag Archive for: Midlands Agri-Tech Innovation Hub

Agri-EPI Centre featured as supporter of Midlands tech innovators in UK Government campaign

As part of a UK Government campaign encouraging UK companies to export their goods, the Department for International Trade has released a short video which we were delighted to see featured Agri-EPI Centre, our partners and our Midlands Innovation Hub.

Welcoming NoFence to our Midlands Agri-Tech Innovation Hub

NoFence (www.nofence.co.uk), has created the world’s first virtual fencing for livestock: using GPS and cellular communication technology built into special collars to help farmers graze animals on pasture without the need for traditional penning and electric fences. Our vision is to improve animal welfare and make it easier for farmers to rear animals, as well as promote sustainable food production and help people to make better use of pasture resources throughout the world.

The Agri-EPI Centre Midlands Agri-Tech Innovation Hub is designed to unite tech innovators, business thinkers, engineers and all agricultural expertise under one roof. From flexible office space to events and workshops, the hub supports agri-tech innovators to take their solutions from the planning stage to testing on commercial farms and ultimately to market.

Set in the home of British agricultural engineering, Shropshire, on the Harper Adams University campus, the hub is one of four Agri-EPI Centre facilities. We sat down with network member and Innovation Hub resident NoFence to catch up on their game-changing fencing solutions and how the Midlands centre is supporting agri-tech innovation.

The world’s first virtual fencing for livestock

Using GPS and cellular communication technology, Nofence eliminates the need for traditional pens and electric fences for livestock. Smart tech in special collars worn by the animals means they can graze on pastures without physical boundaries, making farming easier for farmers, more sustainable for the planet and kinder to animals.

“The Nofence system facilitates the managed grazing process,” explains the Nofence team. “[It allows] farmers to change the boundaries of the grazing zones throughout the day, in order to optimise the energy uptake in the grass and avoid overgrazing.”

“Grazing animals on open pasture land offers well-documented benefits for both wildlife and the environment. For example, grazing animals will often choose more dominant plant species to eat, allowing less competitive plants to thrive. In addition, grazing animals that lie and roll help increase structural diversity of the land, and trampling helps to create areas of bare ground that produce nurseries for seedlings.”

Inspire, inform, innovate

Nofence is just one of the many agri-tech innovators in residence at our Midlands Agri-Tech Innovation Hub, where the availability of all kinds of agricultural expertise and access to commercial farms for trials and research offer practical benefits to their agri-tech solutions.

“We are always striving to create a product that the farmers find useful,” they say. “It’s not about what we want to make, but about what the customers need.”

Testing technology in a real farming environment allows agri-tech companies to see the practical application of the technology being developed. For Nofence, it’s been hugely exciting to see how their work helps the farmer bring a herd out of the barn and into the pasture.

“Nofence takes the animals back outside, so that the farmer can benefit from all of the land and the ‘free food’ that the animals are made to collect. The grazing ruminant has always been there and is equipped with four legs to find their own food – Nofence allows them to do this, in a much simpler way than before.”

The future of agri-tech

Looking ahead, Nofence plans to use the Midlands Innovation Hub as a centre to continue developing innovative agri-tech solutions and forge links between the UK and their home country of Norway. For Nofence, the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the importance of self-sufficiency: “With our technology, countries like Norway and the UK can utilise all of their land to produce food and rely less on imports,” they explain.

With big plans and even bigger goals, Nofence shows no sign of slowing down and can rely on the Midlands Hub as a springboard for their projects to grow nationwide. “Our goal for the UK is that every farmer should have the option to fence virtually,” they declare. “Physical fencing is so 2018!”

To find out more about our Agri-Tech Innovation Hubs, and see how your business could benefit from the many spaces and opportunities available, contact us today.

Agri-EPI supports ground-breaking project Hands Free Farm

Agri-EPI Centre is project managing the innovative Hands Free Farm project at Harper Adams University. Hands Free Farm is the follow-on to the famous Hands Free Hectare project started in 2016 by Harpers Adams and Precision Decisions with the aim to be the first in the world to grow, tend and harvest a crop without operators in the driving seats or agronomists on the ground. The automation farm project has been taken through two successful cropping cycles and won a number of awards, including the prestigious BBC Food and Farming Future Food Award.

Now, thanks to funding from Innovate UK, the project has evolved into Hands Free Farm, a three-year-long project, run by Harper Adams and Precision Decisions and the UK division of Australian precision agriculture specialist Farmscan AG.

The project has just got underway and is based at Harper Adams’ campus in Shropshire. Agri-EPI Centre is providing the team with project management support and development space at its Midlands Agri-Tech Innovation Hub, located on the university’s campus.

Les Hurdiss, Manager of Agri-EPI’s Midlands Hub, said: “Hands Free Farm is a fantastic, ground breaking project which is truly innovative in taking farming into a new era. We are very proud that the project will be developed in our Midlands Agri-Tech Innovation Hub. Robotics and automation are at the forefront of the current transformation of agriculture and Hands Free Farm is one of several projects in which Agri-EPI is involved which are advancing this exciting area.”

Jonathan Gill, Harper Adams Mechatronics Researcher said: “This time, we’re planning to grow three different combinable crops across 35 hectares.

“We’re moving past the feasibility study which the hectare provided us with, to now a vision of the future of farming.

“We want to prove the capability and ability of these systems in reducing the levels of soil compaction and precision application.”

Kit Franklin, Harper Adams Senior Agricultural Engineering Lecturer, said: “We want the farm to become a testbed for agricultural innovation. Once the farm’s established, we’ll be encouraging companies to come and test and evaluate their technologies.”

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.

Bringing people together at the heart of UK Agri-Tech

As the go-to enabler in precision agricultural and UK Agri-Tech innovation, Agri-EPI Centre helps members with key business challenges to drive forward agri-tech innovation.

During our recent Stakeholder Day on 14 May 2019, we offered our members a full programme allowing them to catch-up on the latest UK agri-tech developments and share their projects and ideas with the wider Agri-EPI Membership network. The event was held at the Midlands Agri-Tech Innovation Hub in Newport-Shropshire. Why this venue and what did the day bring?

Our members represent the wider food supply chain – from farmers to processors and retailers plus engineering and technology businesses of all sizes. They share a commitment to positioning the UK as a global leader in sustainable food production.

The Vice Chancellor of Harper Adams University, Dr David Llewellyn, warmly welcomed more than 60 guests. A variety of other speakers talked about agri-tech innovations. An inspiring presentation about autonomous vehicles was given by Jonathan Gill, Mechatronics Researcher and UAV Pilot at Harper Adams University, home to the t Hands Free Farm project. The aim is to create a fully autonomous cereal farm that brings together precision machines, an autonomous farmyard and remote agronomy.

Member Stakeholder Day May 2019Member Stakeholder Day May 2019 - AWS

Amazon Web Services (AWS) is working with the supply chain to help end-users extract value from Internet of Things technology and simplify the development and integration of robotics. Relevant case studies were presented by Ricardo Sueiras, Principal Cloud Evangelist. Dr Cheryl Teoh, Consultant of Leyton Group’s Technical Advisory explained R&D Tax Relief in more detail and addressed a couple of key R&D areas for innovation in agriculture. Douglas Armstrong of IceRobotics, presented innovative sensor technology solutions for livestock research.

Partners Member Stakeholder Day 2019

Partnership banner Member Stakeholder Day May 2019


There are different mechanisms available to Agri-EPI members for funding R&D projects. David Telford, Knowledge Transfer Manager in Agri-Food, talked about Innovate UK funding calls as part of the Transforming Food Production Challenge. Up to £90 million of new funding will become available for agri-tech to help businesses, researchers and industry to transform food production. He highlighted that “globally we need to produce food in ways that are significantly more efficient, resilient and sustainable. Innovation is key to ensure a competitive and prosperous sector.”

European project opportunities were presented by both Kavitha Muthu, Regional Ambassador for Midlands and Northeast at ESA Business Applications, and Ian Holmes, National / Global Contact Point in Agri-Tech & Bioeconomy at Innovate UK. Next to an introduction to the H2020 Agri-Food work programme, Holmes gave top tips on how to read the calls: “Focus on the impact of your project by involving future end-users in your proposal; apply real market information in the application and be sure that your project matches the scope of the call.”


About the venue

Agri-EPI Centre Midlands Agri-Tech Innovation Hub


The Midlands Agri-Tech Innovation Hub is part of a UK-wide network of Agri-EPI facilities, each of which offers specialist expertise, space and equipment to investigate, develop and evaluate precision technologies and techniques for better productivity, profitability and sustainability.

Midlands Hub Board Room

Board Room

Midlands Hub Conference Room

Conference Room

Midlands Hub Break out space

Break out space

Midlands Hub Meeting room

Meeting room

Midlands Hub Atrium

Wider atrium

Midlands Hub Upper atrium

Upper atrium

Midlands Hub Lower atrium

Lower atrium

The Hub is a bright, airy and modern venue offering five different spaces, which can be booked together or separately. The board and meeting rooms provide excellent breakout areas, while the lower and upper atriums are great exhibition, networking and catering spaces. These areas are not only open to agri-food companies – they provide the perfect space for local companies of all kinds.


Yoni van Breukelen


“It’s a privilege to host events where we bring together our members and inform them on interesting developments in the field of Agri-Tech.”

~ Yoni van Breukelen, Marketing Manager Agri-EPI Centre


UK Agri-Tech

In addition to, the Hub boasts a dedicated incubation facility, with space to grow, which is open to technology start-ups. A range of state-of-the-art precision technology equipment is available for hire, both by companies occupying the incubation space and by others in the UK agri-tech sector.

Agri-EPI Centre Midlands Dairy Research CentreThe Midlands Dairy Research Centre, which is managed by Harper Adams University, works with next generation dairy technology to understand dairy cow behaviour and welfare, and is just a ten-minute walk away from the venue. Its 50-cow robotic milking shed was designed specifically for trial work, complementing Harper Adams’ 380-strong commercial dairy herd. Agri-EPI welcomes proposals from technology companies and those involved in the dairy sector for projects to be undertaken in the Centre.


Book your next event

Get in touch to book your next event or to discuss prices of our meeting rooms and venue spaces, please contact our dedicated team:

T: 01952 570 147
E: venues@agri-epicentre.com

For general enquiries

To discuss research opportunities, projects and the leasing or hiring of facilities, please contact us:

T: 01950 570152
E: enquiries@agri-epicentre.com

Tag Archive for: Midlands Agri-Tech Innovation Hub