“A collaborative approach is vital,” explained Stuart Catchpole, investment manager at New Anglia, the local enterprise partnership (LEP) for Norfolk & Suffolk. In the Agri-Tech Week event ‘Agri-food in the East of England’ the agri-food sector was urged to work together to drive growth within the sector.
“We want to work with the research base,” he continued. “That means the region’s world-leading academics, as well as our world-leading businesses across the food chain, from farmers to processors and technology businesses.”
The event was focussed on how New Anglia LEP, Greater Lincolnshire LEP and the Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Combined Authority are working towards developing major inward investment opportunities in the region’s agri-food sector.
Stuart told the meeting that in order to support the growth and further development of the wider region’s agricultural, research, innovation and technology expertise, the LEP needs to forge collaborations across the agri-food value chain.
“We want to build additional collaborative innovation programmes, with real national and international impact, supported by a globally significant agri food research. And we want to lead the development of sustainable agriculture simultaneously feeding Britain and protecting and enhancing our natural capital.”
The event showcased some of the area’s world-leading businesses, and highlighted mechanisms and initiatives which support business growth and make the region such a great place to innovate and do business. Martin Collison from Greater Lincolnshire LEP stressed the importance of the logistics sector.
Delegates at the event heard from Martin Lutman, who ran the highly successful Eastern Agritech Growth Initiative, which ran from late 2013 through to March 2021. The scheme supported SMEs by providing grants for research and development which might otherwise not ever get off the ground, and its other focus was helping businesses grow by funding investments in capital equipment to help them become more productive, efficient, healthier and more profitable.
Two of the successful grant recipients, Sam Steggles from Fielding Farm Cottage and Joe Halstead from AgriGrub Ltd, talked about their experiences.
Joe Halsey from Agrigrub said: “Eastern Agritech Growth Initiative really helped us scale up the business in one big leap. It helped us recruit employees and implement new management software. With it we acquired and modified the critical kit we needed. So the funding made a huge difference for the business.”
Also speaking were Dr Louise Sutherland, Agri-Tech Project Development Director for CERES, a collaborative agri-tech partnership between five leading UK universities and three renowned agricultural research institutes, and Professor Simon Pearson from the University of Lincoln, who shared examples of industry linked projects supported by the Centre for Doctoral Training in Agri-Food Robotics.
This event was hosted by New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership and the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority.
Agri-Tech Week features a mix of in-person and virtual events that are designed to showcase exciting developments in agri-tech. It is coordinated by Agri-TechE working closely with partners across the innovation ecosystem and aims to provide opportunities to attract new customers and partners and to broker collaborations and international connections.