New ideas come from chance encounters. Many would say that a real benefit of being part of the Agri-Tech cluster comes from meeting someone from a different sphere of life who shares a mutual interest. In a number of cases, these opportunistic interactions between people – who wouldn’t have otherwise have met – have developed into successful collaborations.
The member only Challenge Convention on the 9th May aims to facilitate these types of interactions.
Technologists and researchers, especially those that are new to sector, will gain domain knowledge and a better understanding from farmers of the real world constraints. They also have a rare opportunity to articulate their challenges to the wider network.
For producers and growers it might be a new approach to solving a challenge.
Although many of collaborations that arise through membership are commercially confidential here are a flavour of some of the results that have been achieved.
- A research organisation received significant funding from a national potato processor to develop new innovations for post-harvest storage of potatoes following introduction at one of our events
- A UK supermarket formalised a collaboration with a plant breeder and a research organisations to gain exclusive access to a novel brassica germplasm. This has led to a new product development.
- PBD Biotech, developers of a rapid blood test for bovine TB secured £0.5M of finance, after it featured in the 2016 REAP start-up showcase, it has since gone from strength to strength.
- A plant science lab and a Suffolk-based farmer-owned UAV company gained a BBSRC grant to collaborate on a project around hyper-spectral camera imaging of plant growth and machine learning
- SectorMentor, another REAP start-up, gained support from Elveden Farms to develop its monitoring app
- A number of data-driven companies in the network have formed collaborations; for example, Consus Fresh is working with 30MHz to integrate data
- A national agronomy company become interested in geomatic surveillance and satellite positioning for management of crops following a presentation by a speaker in the oil and gas industry, this discussion has evolved into an interesting project.
- G’s Fresh had an insight into a way to improve its forecasting of salad production following a discussion with Microsoft at an event and this led to groundbreaking IceCam project.
- A technology company met with a producer to talk over some of their challenges with a view to suppling the technology to solve them
- An agronomy company worked with an IP law firm they met at one of our events to ensure commercial protection of their know-how associated with a new innovation
- After featuring at REAP, a research institute has developed a long term relationship with a Chinese university to share their agri-tech research
- Start-ups in the network have received investment, legal advice, board members and mentors, funding application support accountancy and other support from across the membership
- PR and communications support has been sought – and found – from across the network to help ensure the correct positioning of products and services within the industry.
Challenge Convention to catalyse innovation
Agri-food is a complex sector and many of the challenges can benefit from a multidisciplinary approach, the aim of the Challenge Convention is to catalyse discussion around the types of issues that impact everyone in the network – whether it’s a farming challenge, research looking to make an impact or fnd partners for funding, or a technology looking for input from end users. We are confident that coming to the Challenge Convention will provide the opportunity to meet other members with knowledge, technology solutions or services that can benefit them.
It will also provide an opportunity for researchers and technologists to gain industry input and find early adopters.
Other member-only events are hugely popular and always result in new links being formed and new collaborations taking off with tangible outputs.
Agri-Tech East Director Belinda Clarke explains: “We know that something special happens when our network comes together. The diversity of the experience and skills within the network means that our member-only events provide a unique opportunity to really meet those you are unlikely to have bumped into elsewhere.”
The Members Challenge Convention will be held on 9th May at Elmdonbury, Elmdon, Essex CB11 4NF.