Agri-Tech East is helping to stimulate innovation in agri-tech and to build a cluster of organisations across the value chain.
In addition to promoting funding opportunities, organising the REAP conference with its start-up showcase and hosting regular networking events on different subjects, Agri-Tech East also offers members dedicated knowledge-sharing events.
Challenge Convention 2nd October 2019 is designed to stimulate collaborative projects.
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 find 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.
Initiatives to create a pipeline of early-stage businesses
One of the initiatives to stimulate very early-stage businesses is GROW, the UK’s first business plan competition for agri-tech. After three successful years it was decided to try a different format and Agri-Tech East hosted a hackathon in 2018 which was also very popular and is planning another for 5-7 July 2019.
The idea of the hackathon is to present a number of intractable agri-food challenges to a group of people with skills gained from other industries. Together they work on the challenges over a weekend and present their ideas to a panel of judges on the last day. The first hackathon produced fresh ideas and approaches and a number are now being considered by industry partners.
Articles about GROW
Agri-Tech Hackathon – 48 hours to save the world!
July 6 @ 8:00 am – July 7 @ 5:00 pm
Changes to the UK climate will impact our ability to produce food – predictions include periods of too much or too little water, increasing average and extreme temperatures, and sea level rise.
However with the right approaches and technologies there is an opportunity to mitigate these impacts and to embrace the change.
If constraints such as water availability and soil fertility are managed, agriculture and forestry may be able to increase production with warmer weather and longer growing seasons. Offering adaptation-related goods and services may provide economic opportunities for UK businesses in global markets.
Necessity is the mother of invention – so our next Hackathon is calling on you to rise to the biggest challenge and think about solutions.
Ideas can change the world …for the better
At our first Hackathon we gave participants a couple of days to feed the world.
Solutions emerged for improved use of big data in agriculture, unexpected innovations for vertical farming, and the winner, deployment of gaming technologies to identify weeds in the field. Several of these concepts are now being progressed.
Many perspectives needed
As before, we’ll be welcoming people from all disciplines, including software developers, electronics engineers, plant and animal biologists, physicists, farmers, vets, physicists and industry professionals to get together and tackle the issues.
The challenges are still being developed but the broad themes include:
- minimising nutrient losses from soil – agriculture has a major impact on environmental degradation. Growing a limited range of crops, year after year, has exhausted the soil and heavy machinery damaged its structure and resilience to extreme weather events.
- improving water management – demanding year around vegetables and flowers results in excessive water extraction and salinization of soil in some areas.
- reducing greenhouse gases – intensive livestock rearing is contributing to methane production and degradation of peat soils and other carbon sinks have reduced the ability of the environment to sequester atmospheric carbon.
- boosting biodiversity – In the West we have exported our problems. Growing soya, quinoa and palm oil in areas of high biodiversity have devastated these invaluable habitats. Most of our food crops come from just a few species.
We will be working together in a 48 hour “sprint” to find workable solutions for the industry to adopt.
We need you
Attendance is free and you don’t have to be a member of Agri-Tech East to participate – so save the date!
We’ll be hacking over the weekend of July 6-7th 2019 at the Future Business Centre in Cambridge, with an evening reception taking place on the 5th July.