Andrew Spinks of B&C Farming took a farmer’s eye view of the need to simplify the collection and interpretation of data. Knowing that many farmers like himself make notes on bits of paper, he is developing an app for capturing this data and performing analysis to show the business benefits of different strategies.
He says: “The Agri-Tech GROW business plan competition has been a very positive experience; the expertise, inspiration and support given by the people involved in the process has been invaluable.
“We at B&C Farming decided that our soil and fertiliser management system was fulfilling a need which was not met anywhere else in the market. Involvement in the GROW competition has provided opportunities for us as farmers to learn how to move an innovative farm idea to a market ready product.
“One of the most valuable parts of the experience has been working with our mentor Amanda McMurray. Amanda’s expertise and encouragement has left me with considerably more confidence and knowledge of how to write a business plan, appreciating the writing style to adopt and the tone to take on presentations really helped with the production of a successful plan. Amanda also was invaluable with advice regarding business structure and forward planning. Having a mentor as we did in this situation would be enough of an incentive to take part in this competition again.
“However, there were further benefits. The presentation workshop at which I met my fellow competitors was a thought provoking morning which provided a great opportunity for interrogation of our business concept and practise in communicating the ideas behind it.
“The final of the competition, held in June, was staged at the Agrii office in Essex. An audience of investors, scientists and prominent industry stalwarts was a daunting prospect. The short presentation time afforded to the competitors was a challenge and forced a focus on effective and succinct communication.
“Questions from the floor and the judges were challenging and a great help in developing ideas about how this project moves forwards, critical views being as valuable as positive comments. This project was a runner-up, however we have some prizes.
“The prizes are prestigious and I look forward, over the forthcoming year, to taking up the opportunities they offer. A virtual tenancy at the Norfolk Research Park, membership of the Hethel Innovation pad and membership of the Norfolk Network are great opportunities. Terra-Farmer, software for soil management is moving forward. We are engaging contractors to work with us on the software development, continuing to evolve the ideas behind the project through discussion with scientists and continuing to test the idea as we use it on the 3000 acres of land that B&C Farming Ltd manages in North East Norfolk.
“The GROW competition has been a great process, congratulations to Belinda and her team on such a great competition, and I would encourage anyone with an agri-tech business idea to get involved, it would be particularly good to see more farm level innovation and problem solving.”
– Andrew Spinks, B&C Farming