“A universal need, a receptive market, money and advice available to support you – what are you waiting for?”
Agri-Tech East has launched the GROW business-plan competition which aims to encourage entrepreneurial thinking into the industry. The closing date for registration of interest has been extended to 15 March 2015.
Entrepreneurs and innovators from across the UK are encouraged to submit a 12-page business plan describing an innovative new technology, product or service that will help improve the efficiency, productivity or sustainability of agriculture and horticulture.
The objective of GROW is to encourage a cohort of innovative, investable commercial concepts that will have the potential to become new businesses. All those that register an expression of interest will benefit from the support of an experienced mentor to help them to develop the business plan.
Explore the potential
Belinda Clarke comments: “Agri-tech is a good sector to be exploring now – population growth brings pressure on resources, we need fresh approaches and these can come from non-traditional routes. We are anticipating that through GROW entrepreneurs with technologies developed in other industries will be encouraged to explore the potential in agri-food.
“For example, salad is the ultimate fast-moving-consumer-good, with tight deadlines, the need for high levels of data-management and considerable scope for huge benefits in productivity through incremental process improvements. This is the type of challenge that is relished in other market sectors such as finance or logistics.”
Miranda Weston-Smith is one of the experienced mentors that have volunteered their time to support the applicants.
In her day job Miranda provides practical business development services for early stage companies particularly those within healthcare and biotech, and this includes the development of marketing plans, and advice on business strategy, financing, and licensing, so she is in a good position to guide those new to entrepreneurship in the right direction.
Business plan energises partners
Miranda says that the business plan is a key starting point. “The role of the business plan is not just to define the business concept and outline the market opportunities but it is also a valuable vehicle to share your aspirations and ambitions with integrity and engage and energise others – your team, potential funders and collaborators.
“Innovation happens at boundaries so ideas gained from other industries could be applied to the agri-food industry. Agri-tech is needed to improve how we feed the world; what can be more vital and inspiring than that?”
Miranda is also a mentor of the Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning part of the Judge Business School at the University of Cambridge and believes that entrepreneurship can be taught and that although a tolerance to risk is important there are ways to manage the level of risk.
“Taking the pulse on risk is essential as is minimising it,” she comments.
Business plan competition
The business plan for GROW should identify the market opportunity, the business concept, the management team, their strengths and track record, financial predictions and the funding requirements. With business support, rent-free accommodation and access to expert help to make the plan a commercial reality, the competition is designed to encourage and support the leaders of the agri-tech businesses of the future.
Miranda is looking forward to seeing more entrants; “Farmers are innovators out of necessity – so there is considerable untapped talent in the sector. Bringing together talent and the needs of the times will generate new ideas.”
For more information about GROW and how to apply click here.
Prizes for GROW
The winners are eligible for a cash prize of £1000 first prize and £500 second prize and can select further business support from a menu of options designed to help accelerate their businesses, including:
- Two days of expert IP advice and drafting and filing of a UK patent from PBL
- Six months’ free office / lab space at Rothamsted Centre for Research and Enterprise
- Six months’ free office / lab space at Norwich Research Park
- A place on the Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning’s 2015 Ignite programme at Cambridge Judge Business School
- Six months’ access to the “Green Inc” incubator at the Future Business Centre Cambridge (FBCC), including access to all in-house events, and six months’ 1-2-1 business support and mentoring from the Business Advisor at the FBCC
- One year’s free membership to Cambridge Cleantech (including access to all members’ events)
- Complimentary Annual Associate Membership of Norfolk Network
- One year’s free membership to Cambridge Network
- Membership of the Hethel Innovation Launch Pad Programme
- Six months’ part-time membership of ideaSpace City
- Legal advice from Barr Ellison LLP
A place and a 25% bursary on the UEA Food & Agribusiness Executive MBA
Once the competition has closed, a panel of experts will short-list a number of plans to go through the Final on June 8th 2015. The Final will be held at Throw’s Farm, by kind permission of Agrii, and will comprise a 10-minute presentation about each plan, followed by questions from the Judging Panel. The winners will be announced the same day.