WWF and BASF supporting GROW agri-hackathon

WWF supports agri-hackathon soil health

In 30-60 years we could lose all the fertile peat topsoil from East Anglia[1] ‘the food basket of the UK’ given current land management practices and a changing climate. Soils also play a key role in absorbing carbon and filtering water, so it is vital we break this vicious circle. To encourage new thinking Agri-Tech East is launching an agri-hackathon with the challenge ‘48 hours to save the world.’

Dr Belinda Clarke, Director of Agri-Tech East, comments: “Our first agri-hackathon was a great success and inspirational approaches emerged that showed the benefits of inviting fresh ideas from outside the agri-industry.

“The grand challenges we are presenting for this next hackathon include: smarter water usage; rejuvenating soils; ameliorating greenhouse gases; and enhancing biodiversity. The aim is to mitigate environmental impacts and increase the resilience of food production to extreme events.

“The UK has the potential to make a significant contribution to the international debate about sustainability. It has innovative farmers, a strong research-base and a willingness to adopt new approaches and ideas; we could be the test-bed for agri-innovations with wide reaching benefits.”

The GROW agri-hackathon is supported by Barclays Eagle Labs, BASF and WWF and will take place over the weekend of 5-7 July 2019 at the Future Business Centre in Cambridge. It aims to bring together teams of smart thinkers with various backgrounds and skill sets to look at some of agriculture’s biggest challenges from a fresh perspective.

Tom Stuart, UK Landscape Policy Manager for WWF-UK, comments: “The environmental challenges addressed in this year’s Hackathon are exactly those that WWF-UK is working to resolve positively. How to balance the interacting trade-offs that exist between each of them and a sustainable and thriving agriculture sector that provides healthy food to a growing population requires difficult judgements. The outputs of the Hackathon will provide invaluable contributions to inform agricultural policy and practice.”

“Agriculture is an industry driven by innovation,” comments Louis Wells, Agricultural Solutions and Services Manager for BASF, who was involved in the first GROW agri-hackathon.

“We were involved with last year’s Agri-Tech East Hackathon and were impressed with the energy of the event, as well as the ideas resulting from it; for me the weed control challenge was a highlight. Herbicide resistant blackgrass is one of the biggest challenges facing farmers in the UK today. To share and explain the intricacies of this challenge with the hackers was great, and seeing the intelligent thinking behind the outcomes even better!

“What makes a great hackathon is the combined force and ideas from participants with different backgrounds. It’s this diversity, together with networking and fresh perspectives, that can bring some fascinating new approaches to tackle the challenges that agriculture faces. These ideas then have the potential – if worked on and developed further – to deliver brand new agricultural innovations. We’re very confident that this year’s event will deliver the same buzz and ideas as it did last year.”

Jon Hope, Eagle Labs Director, comments “getting involved in the hackathon is one of the ways in which we can support the growth of the Agri-tech cluster. Barclays has a number of industry-focused Eagle Labs, specialising in the industries where the UK has competitive advantage; Agritech is one of those key industries.”

Eagle Labs are one of the largest co-working, collaboration and incubator networks in the UK. With 23 Eagle Labs across the country, supporting over 450 residents and more in the pipeline, the focus is to help accelerate UK start-ups and scale-ups, and promote collaborative innovation across the entire ecosystem.

The agri-hackathon will kick off with a networking reception, where industry experts will frame the challenges and participants will form teams. Agri-Tech East members are volunteering resources such as data and specialist equipment, and the event will culminate in pitches of the resulting ideas on the Sunday, judged by a panel of experts.

Belinda comments: “The hackathon last year produced some viable business concepts and new approaches. Solutions emerged for improved use of big data in agriculture, unexpected innovations for vertical farming, and – the winner – the deployment of gaming technologies to identify weeds in the field. Several of these concepts are now being progressed commercially.

“This created a real sense of achievement for those who participated. There is growing concern over climate change and we hope that this will translate into some exciting solutions at this next event.”

You don’t need to be a member of Agri-Tech East to take part in the agri-hackathon or to be part of a team.  Everyone with an interest in programming and making a difference is welcome to take part.

Register here

 

[1] The Committee for Climate Change https://www.theccc.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/ASC-2013-ExecSum_singles_2.pdf

48 hours to save the world – second agri-hackathon launched

In 30-60 years we could lose all the fertile peat topsoil from East Anglia – ‘the food basket of the UK’ – given current land management practices and a changing climate. Soils also play a key role in absorbing carbon and filtering water, so it is vital we break this vicious circle. To encourage new thinking Agri-Tech East is launching an agri-hackathon with the challenge ‘48 hours to save the world.’

Dr Belinda Clarke, Director of Agri-Tech East, comments: “Our first agri-hackathon was a great success and inspirational approaches emerged that showed the benefits of inviting fresh ideas from outside the agri-industry.

“The grand challenges we are presenting for this next hackathon include: smarter water usage; rejuvenating soils; ameliorating greenhouse gases; and enhancing biodiversity. The aim is to mitigate environmental impacts and increase the resilience of food production to extreme events.

“The UK has the potential to make a significant contribution to the international debate about sustainability. It has innovative farmers, a strong research-base and a willingness to adopt new approaches and ideas; we could be the test-bed for agri-innovations with wide reaching benefits.”

Driven by innovation

The GROW agri-hackathon is supported by WWF, Barclay’s Eagle Labs and BASF and will take place over the weekend of 5-7 July 2019 at the Future Business Centre in Cambridge. It aims to bring together teams of smart thinkers with various backgrounds and skill sets to look at some of agriculture’s biggest challenges from a fresh perspective.

The Challenges

The challenges are still being developed but the broad themes include:

  • minimising nutrient losses from soil
  • improving water management
  • reducing greenhouse gases
  • boosting biodiversity

Stimulating company 

The agri-hackathon will kick off with a networking reception, where industry experts will frame the challenges and participants will form teams. Resources such as data and specialist equipment are being volunteered by Agri-Tech East members, and the event will culminate in pitches of the resulting ideas on the Sunday, judged by a panel of experts.

Belinda comments: “The hackathon last year produced some viable business concepts and new approaches. Solutions emerged for improved use of big data in agriculture, unexpected innovations for vertical farming, and – the winner – the deployment of gaming technologies to identify weeds in the field. Several of these concepts are now being progressed commercially. “This created a real sense of achievement for those who participated.

There is growing concern over climate change and we hope that this will translate into some exciting solutions at this next event.”

More information is available at www.agritech-east.co.uk/grow

Watch a 1min20 video of the 2018 event

Stimulating agri-tech innovation

Stimulating agri-tech innovation sq

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.

GROW Agri-Hackathon 5-7 July 2019

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.

To read more about these activities. 

Articles about GROW

Agri-Tech Hackathon – 48 hours to save the world!

July 5  – July 7 

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

The challenges are still being developed but the broad themes include:

  • minimising nutrient losses from soil
  • improving water management
  • reducing greenhouse gases
  • boosting biodiversity

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.