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University of Essex

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The Essex Plant Innovation Centre (EPIC) of the University of Essex is one of the UK’s leading plant productivity research groups
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The Essex Plant Innovation Centre (EPIC) of the University of Essex launched in September 2019 and combines the wide-reaching expertise of academics in the Schools of Life Sciences and Computer Science and Electronic Engineering.

Current projects include state-of-the-art robotics and AI for crop harvesting as well as developments in hydroponic systems and LED lighting for vertical farming.

EPIC works to answer the fundamental questions and real-world challenges faced by the agri-tech and environmental industry through innovative research and nurturing productive relationships with business partners.

Take a look at this video from BBC Breakfast on the University’s work with Tiptree to build fruit-picking robots:

The University has one of the UK’s leading plant productivity research groups, and impressive credentials in the area of plant research. Some potential applications of their research include: monitoring techniques to determine crop physiology, performance and plant health; technologies and know-how to manipulate plant growth and post-harvest performance; and genome-wide methods for discovering and exploiting traits for molecular breeding programmes. Furthermore, their specialist research can be applied to increase plant productivity and yield through improving photosynthesis, enhanced plant growth and yield, greater plant water use efficiency and the ability of plants to sense and respond to abiotic and biotic stresses.

The University of Essex has a significant impact on the regional economy of the East of England, as well as on the rest of the UK. The University attracts a very large cohort of students every year from all across the UK as well as from the EU and overseas and is one of the largest employers in Essex and in the region. Additionally, it has forged links with many local and national businesses, public bodies and third sector organizations, with a variety of engagement activities being pursued currently.

The University is flexible and innovative in proposing ideas. It aims to foster a professional relationship around R&D projects aimed at solving a specific problem or creating a new commercial opportunity.

Find out more about plant science capabilities at

In the News

In the News