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Wed, 8 April 2020

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How we can make the UK a world leader in AgriTech

How we can make the UK a world leader in AgriTech

SmithsonHill

4 min read Member content

The UK won’t become a world leader in AgriTech without a central site to foster the commercialisation of ideas, explains SmithsonHill. 


With the World population set to grow from 7.5 billion to 9.5 billion or more by 2050 and with yield growth slowing globally, we face a growing challenge in feeding the World. To put it bluntly, by 2050, there will be just too many people on earth to feed sustainably … unless something changes.

AgriTech innovations help with food supply, waste reduction, improving productivity in the food chain, increased biodiversity, soil health, animal health and, eventually, healthier and better value food for us all. However, the UK agriculture industry is under even greater pressure than ever to redefine our farming and food supply chains – and – to accelerate the pace at which it commercialises and adopts new AgriTech innovations to deliver sustainable change.

As in the technology and life sciences clusters, the real power of the AgriTech sector is in the way innovators are working across sectors, applying technology in new ways and using data more efficiently. But industry is calling out for a physical central site where “creative collisions” between businesses can happen.   

The UK could have a future as the heart of the global AgriTech industry, a magnet for companies seeking to commercialise ideas and scale faster.

Our vision is to create ARC, a dedicated AgriTech park to help the UK take its place as a global player for AgriTech commercialisation, by developing an AgriTech Park next to Cambridge to build on its world-renowned existing science and technology clusters. At its heart will be a 3,000 SQM (30,000 SQFT) innovation hub for AgriTech entrepreneurs to commercialise their research and scale their businesses.

Cambridge is especially well-placed to support the commercialisation and scale up of the emerging AgriTech solutions and is already carving out a place as leader of the new AgriTech global cluster. It took 40 years to develop the Cambridge technology cluster (comprised of 1,000 companies) – while, in just four years, AgriTech has grown exponentially in Cambridge because it has the skills and opportunity to bring new technologies into agriculture drawing on Cambridge’s leadership in disciplines such as life sciences, engineering and AI.

“The proposed development will solve the challenge of working fast enough to take advantage of AgriTech opportunities, in addition to helping companies like mine scaleup.” Oli Hilbourne, Founder & Director of Operations, Outfield Technologies

ARC’s proximity to Cambridge, links to other Cambridge technology clusters, and a location near key transport links, including the Oxford–Milton Keynes–Cambridge Corridor, means that the ARC site can help AgriTech companies be market-leading both within the UK and globally.  While ‘brand Cambridge’ is proving more popular than ever before with international investors and provides an ideal landing point for new companies to the UK.

“I am sure the ARC facility will attract major players from the global AgriTech industry to the UK and will act like a magnet to bring in companies, employment and investment to the UK.” David Flanders, CEO, Agrimetrics

ARC will meet the needs of the UK AgriTech sector with a global-scale development focused on supporting commercialisation and convergence across technologies. Our vision is based on collaboration, environmental and business sustainability on a thriving physical site with companies commercialising new ideas across technologies, to support an estimated 4,000 jobs and increase regional GVA by £277m per year by 2030.

ARC would deliver a central resource in a key location, bringing businesses and people together while also generating broader opportunities for agriculture. Critically we believe the significance of timeliness of this project will not only bring benefits to the East of England, but will ultimately spread the opportunity across the whole of the UK.

As highlighted in the new Agriculture Bill, the agricultural community now has little more than ten years to find the solutions to reduce global warming, reverse the effects of climate change and ensure sustainable farming methods are in place. It’s too late for ‘business-as-usual’.

SmithsonHill and the broader national and international AgriTech cluster call on MPs and policymakers to support this emerging industry by supporting ARC, a dedicated site for AgriTech.

 

Find out more HERE 

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