The overall winner for GROW 2015 was Patrick Mitton of AgriTopics. He explained that there was a global need for gluten-free foods, increasing demand for protein bars and an existing high-value retail chain. In addition, there were incentives for farmers to grow more legumes in their rotation to improve soil fertility and structure. His business concept focused on developing a trusted and audited supply of white pea flour that could be used as a nutritious alternative to existing wheat substitutes.
Patrick comments about participating in GROW:
Taking part in the AgriTech East GROW competition proved to be a spectacular platform and catalyst to launch an innovative business concept. The lead up to the competition was an exciting time of creating the ‘elevator pitch’ and building the business plan detail.
The input by Belinda Clarke of AgriTech East, and Paul Hughes and the team at the Future Business Centre, Cambridge, proved to be instrumental in creating focus for the competition. For AgriTopics, exposure to leaders in the ag sector attending the competition event created ongoing dialogue that has accelerated the business proposal from concept to concrete plans in a record space of time.
A concept to create a UK guaranteed gluten free supply chain of white pea flour as a highly nutritious ingredient for free-from foods. A strategic business relationship has been created with the John Innes Centre in Norwich. Investors in the ag sector have taken a tangible interest in the business plan and are looking to support and contribute to the commercial success of the venture. Stakeholders along the supply chain – from growing to milling and food company cooking trials, have contributed to a successful ‘beta’ testing of the flour production and use this summer.
Winning the competition offered the additional benefit of excellent and well targeted prizes that have assisted in building the business structures needed to turn innovation into business.
One prize – a week at the Judge Business School on their Summer School ‘Ignite’ programme was as stimulating experience to network with business innovators as well as a number of international delegates developing concepts in the agri sector.
The prize of space and support by the team at the Future Business Centre, Cambridge, has proven to be professional, experienced and stimulating. The support and challenge by Paul Hughes and the team has been instrumental in bringing focus to the business marketing plans.
The prize of legal support by of Barr Ellison in Cambridge has enabled the future business structure scenarios to be mapped – all extremely constructive. There is no doubt, interest and advice by investors, business gurus and academics have been the practical fruits of participating in the GROW competition.
The next steps of further grower trial work, scale-up and technical development and are poised to roll out.