Gloucestershire, the natural home of agri-tech, is set to promote growth and innovation in the sector with the creation of a new collaborative group, The Gloucestershire Agri-Tech Partnership. The CCRI has a research capacity role in the partnership and is represented by Professor Julie Ingram.
As the world grapples with the challenges from climate change and increasingly strained supply chains and food security, innovation in the agri-tech sector is key to provide solutions to these issues.
Gloucestershire has the largest and fastest growing network of high growth agri-tech small and medium sized enterprises in the UK, and one of the largest concentrations of agricultural education. The sector in Gloucestershire was valued at almost £1.5 billion pre Covid and supports more than 50,000 jobs in the county’s wider economy.
GFirst LEP, Gloucestershire’s Local Enterprise Partnership, has come together with key organisations in the county to harness the expertise and facilities of its key centres of excellence. The founding members of the group are – the food science and technology consultancy, Campden BRI; Hartpury University and College’s Agriculture Agri-tech Centre and Tech Box Park, the Royal Agricultural University’s Farm 491, together with the University of Gloucestershire’s Countryside & Community Research Group (CCRI). The involvement of CCRI aligns well with our work in understanding innovation and digitalisation in agriculture from a social, political, cultural and economic perspective. Julie, who has recently published a paper concerning this which can be accessed below, went on to say, “we look forward to supporting this partnership in developing the potential of AgriTech in Gloucestershire. CCRI’s research on understanding the social, economic and political implications of AgriTech for the farming community and industry will complement and strengthen the work of the partnership and help to enable responsible development and effective uptake of these technologies.”
- Ingram, J. et al. (2022). What are the priority research questions for digital agriculture? Land Use Policy, 114.
This invaluable cohort’s main goal is to collaborate and showcase the sector’s unique and bespoke capabilities to start-ups and high growth businesses across the globe, attracting new technology-driven businesses into the area. It also acts to support growing businesses in the country by identifying key opportunities and challenges to foster innovation and growth and as well as supporting those already here in the county.
The ability for companies to test their new products and services on demonstration farms and various incubators, alongside bespoke support in developing business plans, accessing finance and linking to prospective investors and customers provides a solid platform for businesses to innovate and grow.
The Invest in Gloucestershire project team has recently created a county themed agri-tech proposition, highlighting the unique opportunities available to expanding agri-tech businesses. The portfolio champions its unique and world leading R&D assets including the UK’s leading technology incubator hub, Farm 491, its focus on supporting start-ups through the Tech Box Park at Hartpury University and College, which concentrates on helping growing small firms accelerate new products to market. Furthermore, the industry expertise and research organisations of Campden BRI and the CCRI will provide invaluable knowledge and problem solving to the partnership.
Dev Chakraborty, Deputy Chief Executive of GFirst LEP said: ‘It’s fantastic that Gloucestershire’s centres of excellence in agri-tech are working together to showcase to the world what we can offer; attracting exciting growing firms to the county and supporting the expansion of firms already here’
Emma Hanby, Associate Director – Consulting (Technology) said: “We are delighted to be collaborating in this space to provide support across the food and drink agri-tech chain.”
Ben Thompson, Agri-Tech Centre Manager, Hartpury University and Hartpury College said; “Hartpury are delighted to join the Gloucestershire Agri-Tech Partnership, a mutually passionate group driven to help shape the future of digital farming and drive productivity and competitiveness in the agricultural and land-based industries across the region. Together, as part of the new partnership, Hartpury look forward to collectively fostering innovation and growth in Gloucestershire.”
Sarah Carr, Head of Farm 491 said; “Forming this group has already been so valuable in sharing ideas and resources. We have some exciting plans in the pipeline which will further add to the county’s offering of business support to Agri-Tech businesses.”
The Group meet on a bi-monthly basis, and has already identified key challenges and opportunities to explore. This includes working alongside the county’s cyber platform, CYNAM, to support activities related to cyber security, a key issue in an increasingly digital world.
A Memorandum of Understanding has also been jointly signed with the key aims of the group to share knowledge and expertise that will ultimately lead to growth and expansion of the agri-tech sector in Gloucestershire.
The Group recently attended the UK showcase, LAMMA, at the NEC in Birmingham and the Intelligent Farming Summit in Barcelona to meet with prospective new investors looking to establish a business in the county, the group will also be represented at the World Agri-Tech Summit in London later this month.
To find out more about the partnership or make general enquiries, please contact Suzie Lew, Invest in Gloucestershire Project Officer, GFirst LEP @ Suzanne.firstname.lastname@example.org.