Investment opportunities in Agri-Tech

Britain didn’t just lead the Industrial Revolution – it led the Agricultural Revolution too. As science and technology change the face of agriculture, The UK is now amongst the leaders in developing agricultural technologies, pioneering new approaches to food and farming systems.

The UK is home to world class agricultural research in technologies and science. The UK’s most progressive farmers are leading the way, drawing on exciting breakthroughs in:

  • plant and animal breeding

  • remote sensing

  • meteorological prediction

  • exploitation of data

The UK’s world class food and drink manufacturing and retail sectors are highly competitive, supplying consumers both in the UK and abroad.

Strengths in Agri Tech

Three areas where the UK has specific strengths are:

  • Plant Science: includes plant breeding, disease prevention and control, sustainable cultivation, exploitation of new areas of growth potential, agronomy, agricultural inputs, biofuel substrates, vertical farming, bio farming and crop storage

  • Animal Health: includes breeding and animal genetics, therapeutics and vaccines, disease detection and prevention companion animals, aquaculture and animal feedstocks

  • Precision agriculture: includes novel cultivation systems, sensors, imaging, communications, IT, and data handling and big data

UK capabilities

  • Confidence in the UK as the leading place for new models of sustainable farming

  • The UK has the strongest venture capital market in Europe for companies seeking funds for innovation

  • Access to a world class academic and research environment – eight of the top ten universities in Europe

  • 20% of the UK workforce is employed in science-based occupations within research and related industries

  • Strong supply chain relationships

  • Strong links with the research base from early stage research to later technology development

Other reasons for investing in the UK

What the UK government is doing

As part of the new agricultural technologies strategy the UK government has made a number of commitments. These include:

  • a £90 million investment in world-class Centres for Agricultural Innovation with additional investment from industry

  • £10 million for the Centre for Agricultural Informatics and Metrics of Sustainability which will use data from farms, laboratories and retailers to drive innovation.

  • creating a £70 million Agri-Tech Catalyst to help new agricultural technologies bridge the gap between the lab and the marketplace. £10 million will support the transfer of technology and new products to developing countries.

Research in the industry

Research in the UK focuses on:

  • The use of modern technologies to improve the precision and efficiency of agricultural management practices.

  • The application of modern genetic and breeding approaches to improve the quality, sustainability, resilience and yield-led profitability of crops and farm animals.

  • The use of systems-based approaches to better understand and manage interactions between soil, water and crop/animal processes.

  • The development of integrated approaches to the effective management of crop weeds, pests and diseases.

  • The management of animal disease within farming systems.

International companies investing in UK research

PepsiCo crop management tool

As the parent company of Walker’s crisps, PepsiCo worked with Cambridge University and selected farmers to develop a revolutionary web-based crop management tool. Rolled out to farmers in 2011, the tool provides precision information about crops, helping farmers reduce their water use and carbon emissions, boost harvests and increase efficiency.

Strategic Alliance between Easter Bush Research Consortium and Zoetis

In 2010 a new strategic alliance was created between Pfizer Animal Health (now Zoetis) and the Easter Bush Research Consortium (EBRC) which comprises: The Roslin Institute; The Moredun Institute, The Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies and SRUC. The strategic alliance is supported by £1.75 million funding from Zoetis and provides a framework within which researchers from the five partner organisations can collaboratively identify and work on areas of mutual scientific interest. The partnership is the first of its kind in the animal health sector. For Zoetis it represents a significant departure from its traditional approach to R&D. With access to pre-commercial research its enabling the company to identify commercial leads at an early stage and help it to stay ahead of its competitors.

Research centres

The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council invests over £450 million each year in research projects at universities and institutes throughout the UK focusing on agri-tech include crop science, animal health, livestock production, soil science, agri-systems and healthy food.

The John Innes Centre is an internationally-recognised independent research centre focusing on plant science and microbiology.

Rothamsted Research is an independent agricultural research station providing cutting-edge scientific research on the critical factors responsible for plant productivity, crop quality and agricultural sustainability.

The Institute of Food Research is a world-leading research organisation that specialises in fundamental food and health research.

The James Hutton Institute is a multisite scientific organisation located in Scotland that provides a wide range of leading-edge research into environmental, crop and food science.

The Pirbright Institute is a world leading centre of excellence in the research of virus diseases.

Norwich Research Park is a 160 hectare business and innovation campus and Europe’s largest single-site concentration of research in agri-food, health and environmental sciences.

Help and support from UKTI

UKTI can by help potential and current investors to understand the opportunities that exist within the UK Agri-Tech industry and determine the government support that may be needed. UKTI works closely with stakeholders across government and research centres.

For further information about how UKTI can support your business please contact the UKTI Agri-Tech Investment Organisation:

Janet Bainbridge

Email: janet.bainbridge@uktispecialist.com

Gerry Moran

Email: gerry.moran@ukti.gsi.gov.uk

Countries: United Kingdom
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