UK Agri-Tech Centre opens for business 

The UK’s largest agri-tech organisation opens this month, formed from the merger of Agri-EPI, CHAP and CIEL to drive innovation in the sector.  

Agricultural technology or agri-tech is the application of new data technologies to make farming more efficient. That might include gene-editing organisms or installing robots but it can also mean improving the tech inside tractors and milking machines, better monitoring of soil or weather conditions, or the way data is used in the supply chain. 

Golden robotic hand holding a red apple with green leaf

Photo by francescobovolin

There’s a clear need for such pioneering tech given an ever-increasing global population and the related demand for food and fuel. Agriculture and related sectors also face mounting challenges due to climate change. 

To address these issues at scale, in September it was announced that three UK agri-tech centres would join forces to integrate their capability. Agricultural Engineering, Precision and Innovation Centre (Agri-EPI), Crop Health and Protection (CHAP) and Centre for Innovation Excellence in Livestock (CIEL) have now merged as the UK Agri-Tech Centre, which officially opened this month. 

The new centre has clear goals to broad access to opportunities in agri-tech, drive growth in development and business, and help the sector reach greater heights. To achieve this, the centre will provide strategic leadership, address challenges, identify new opportunities and accelerate the adoption of agri-tech solutions for farmers and growers across the UK. 

CEO Phil Bicknell and a newly appointed executive leadership team will head the centre, which receives its core funding from Innovate UK. 

Indro Mukerjee, CEO at Innovate UK, says: ‘As the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK works to support innovative businesses, particularly start-ups and SMEs, through their growth journeys. Agri-tech is an important sector with 40 times the number of startups, and record levels of private capital invested over the last decade and the potential to develop further. 

‘The creation and launch of the UK Agri-Tech Centre will be an important step in developing that potential and will support the agri-tech businesses to start up, scale up and develop internationally.’ 

Stella Peace, Executive Director for Healthy Living and Agriculture, adds: ‘Agri-tech is a lifeline for our planet and our people. The launch of the UK Agri-Tech Centre marks a pivotal moment for the UK, where we have the opportunity to deliver greater impact for the sector and the UK economy. For those leading, and working in the Centre, this is an opportunity to pioneer a new era of innovation and impact.’ 

Dr Peter Quinn, Chair of Board at the new UK Agri-Tech Centre, says: ‘Becoming the UK Agri-Tech Centre increases our ability to implement innovation at speed to solve the increasing challenges in our food systems for the long term. The challenges ahead require a technology pipeline of innovative solutions and applications to combat climate change and feed a growing worldwide population. 

‘The creation of the new UK Agri-Tech Centre is an important step to ensure food security for the future. One of the major benefits of the new Centre is that we have the best people with expert inter-disciplinary skills from all sectors, working collaboratively to develop and deploy new technology. We combine deep scientific and technology specialisms with general business acumen to commercialise innovation and increase market adoption across the agri-food sector.’ 

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