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REAP Conference 2014: Realising our Economic and Agricultural Potential
Wednesday 12th November 2014 @ 10:00 am - 6:00 pm
Agri-tech: Adding value to the food chain
By 2030 the UK will need the equivalent of 7 million more hectares of land to support our growing population. It is estimated that with ‘smart use’ of land and technology we could release more benefit from existing land resources. We now have a perfect storm where there is a clearly articulated market need for innovation and an appetite for change.
For farmers and growers ‘total factor productivity’ is a key consideration for the uptake of new approaches and disruptive technologies and this requires a sound evidence base. Agri-Tech East proposes that the East of England takes a lead in identifying what ‘smart use’ means in the real world.
Take a look through the report from REAP for an overview of the discussions, key points and next steps. Click the cover to download the full pdf.
10:00 Coffee and networking
10:30 Welcome and introduction
Julius Joel, MD of Greens of Soham and Chair of Agri-Tech East Stakeholder Group.
10:40 Introduction to Agri-Tech East
Dr Belinda Clarke, Director of Agri-Tech East.
10:50 Session 1: The growing environment and needs of producers – Producer Panel
Chaired by Prof Chris Gilligan, Department of Plant Sciences, University of Cambridge.
Tony Bambridge, MD of B&C Farming
Richard Hirst, Chairman of Anglian Pea Growers
Dr Ed Moorhouse, Group Technical Director of G’s Fresh.
Session 2: Increasing productivity with evidence-based research
Chaired by Colin MacEwan, Head of the British Beet Research Organisation.
11:30 Science into agricultural practice
Helen Ferrier, Chief Science and Regulatory Affairs Adviser for the NFU.
11:50 How science can have a real impact within the agricultural industry
Bill Clark, Commercial and Technical Director for NIAB.
Session 3: The impact of consumer demand and sustainability on the industry
Chaired by Dale Sanders, Director of John Innes Centre.
13:15 From seed through to consumer – challenges to our food system
Ian Noble, Senior Director at PepsiCo and member of the UK Agri-Tech Leadership Council.
14:00 Helping growers enhance sustainable intensification
Jeremy Macklin, Director of Technology and Innovation at Hutchinsons.
14:20 The role of food manufacturers supporting knowledge transfer and change in the field
Richard Burkinshaw, European Environmental Strategy Manager at Kellogg’s.
14:40 Panel session for questions from delegates
Session 4: Creating opportunities for building value in agri-tech
15:00 An introduction to the business plan competition and outlining the business opportunity for entrepreneurs
William Kendall, organic farmer, investor and entrepreneur
15:15 Tea break
Session 5: The role of agri-tech in building resilience and improving economic performance
15:45 Start-up Showcase
Chaired by Calum Murray, Programme Leader, Agri-Food at Innovate UK (formerly the Technology Strategy Board).
16:45 Closing Remarks
Julius Joel, MD of Greens of Soham and Chair of Agri-Tech East Stakeholder Group.
18:00 Event close
Managing Director of B&C Farming
B&C Farming is run by a board of five directors, with Managing Director Tony Bambridge in full day-to-day control. Tony is also Member of the Research and Knowledge Transfer Committee at the Potato Council, an Associate of Royal Agricultural Society, winner of the 2011 British Potato Industry Award and finalist for the 2012 Farmers Weekly Arable Farmer of the Year.
Chairman of Anglian Pea Growers
Richard is Chairman of Anglian Pea Growers and for G’s Growers, a Director for Anglia Farmers and a Trustee for the Norfolk Farmers Trust and the Clan Trust. He was Chairman of the NFU Board for Horticulture and Potatoes from 2005-2009, giving him insight into a diverse range of farmer/grower businesses, as well as access to policy makers.
Richard’s farm in Norfolk grows wheat, barley, sugar beet, vining peas, potatoes and field scale salads. He has an HND in Agriculture and was a Nuffield Scholar, studying the growth and marketing of brassicas.
Dr Ed Moorhouse
Group Technical Director of G’s Fresh
Ed joined G’s in 2007 as Group Technical Director, a role in which he has technical responsibility for the group’s UK and overseas operations. He interfaces directly with all UK retailers and is responsible for ensuring that the group’s strategy is fully aligned with customer requirements in the delivery of leading food safety, quality, innovation, sustainability and ethical standards.
Ed has a degree in agriculture and a PhD in insect pathology, and has worked for the Horticultural Development Council (HDC) and Mack Multiples.
Head of the British Beet Research Organisation
As Head of the BBRO since 2011, Colin increases the competitiveness and productivity of the UK beet sugar industry through research and technology transfer. Colinis an experienced director with a successful track record within the agricultural, research and food sector. His roles have included Managing Director of Agrovista UK, and CEO of The Arable Group where he led the successful integration with NIAB. His career has involved working with stakeholders across the supply chain looking for ways to foster strong, commercially viable partnerships.
Commercial and Technical Director for NIAB
Bill Clark has been NIAB’s Technical Director since 2012, following his roles as Director of Broom’s Barn Research Centre, the UK National Sugar Beet Research Centre and the ADAS National Cereal Pathologist.
Bill has extensive experience in plant biology and applied plant science and has a special interest in knowledge transfer. His expertise spans horticultural and arable crops pathology and cereal disease control, and is well known for his knowledge of disease control strategies, fungicide activity, physiological effects of fungicides and fungicide resistance issues.
Prof Dale Sanders
Director of John Innes Centre
Dale was appointed in 2010 as Director of the John Innes Centre, an internationally leading centre in plant sciences and microbiology, following six years as the head of the Biology Department at the University of York.
Dale has a PhD in Plant Biophysics and spent five years at Yale University School of Medicine using fungi as model systems for understanding how plants absorb mineral ions.
His has led to insights into the fundamental mechanisms by which plants absorb and distribute inorganic ions. These mechanisms have key roles in the control of crucial crop traits such as nutritional value of foods, seed germination, and how plants cope with toxic elements in the soil.
Dale has authored over 140 scientific papers, many of which have been highly cited and in 2001 was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society and co-awarded the European Science Prize of the Körber Foundation.
Senior Director at PepsiCo and member of the UK Agri-Tech Leadership Council
Ian Noble leads the R&D strategy and portfolio for PepsiCo’s Global Snacks Group, and is responsible for creating and delivering the transformation innovation agenda in partnership with internal and external groups around the world.
Ian joined PepsiCo in 2007 from Unilever, where he was latterly the Global Food Service Beverages R&D Director. He joined Unilever on completing his PhD in Biochemical Engineering in 1994 and subsequently worked in Sri Lanka, Japan, China, France, the Netherlands and the UK, in R&D roles from background research to commercial market leadership.
Ian sits on a number of external technical boards, including the Science and Technology Committee at Campden BRi and the Food Sector UK Biosciences KTN, and also works in partnership with world-leading universities in selected fields.
Director of Technology and Innovation at Hutchinsons
As Director of Technology and Innovation at Hutchinsons, Jeremy works closely with the technical and commercial teams to ensure Hutchinsons is the leading provider of agronomic innovation to UK growers.
Jeremy has considerable experience in developing and marketing new agricultural technology and in bringing research and innovations to the market. He has held a number of senior positions in the industry, including being responsible for the Agronomy Advice and AgroSupplies business for Invivo, the umbrella business for the majority of the Agricultural Co-Ops in France.
European Environmental Strategy Manager at Kellogg’s
Richard was originally a manufacturing systems engineer, before moving into supply chains and sustainability, Richard is in charge of European Environmental Strategy Manager at Kellogg’s.
Organic farmer, investor and entrepreneur
William is Chairman of Nemadi Advisors Ltd., which specialises in earlier stage investment in existing businesses. As CEO he led the development and subsequent sale of both The New Covent Garden Soup Company and Green & Black’s.
Amongst other companies, he is director of Samworth Brothers, Notcutts Ltd and Keystone Investment Trust plc. He is actively involved in family farming businesses in East Anglia and works and campaigns on a wide range of issues connected with food and the countryside.
Programme Leader, Agri-Food at Innovate UK
Calum studied agriculture at Aberdeen University. He then joined ADAS as a technical adviser covering the Suffolk Breckland in the 80’s as well as working for Andersons Farm Business Consultants. He returned to Scotland in 1990, working for both Scottish Agricultural College as a technical and farm business adviser before joining Bank of Scotland as national agricultural specialist in 1995.
In 2001 he transferred back to East Anglia with the Bank, becoming regional Director for NFU Mutual Finance in 2006. He joined Innovate UK in 2010 and has been actively involved in a number of key initiatives such as “Feeding the Future – Innovation requirements for primary food production in the UK to 2030” and as a member of the working group that developed the “UK Strategy for Agricultural Technologies” launched in 2013.
Managing Director, Greens of Soham Ltd, Chair of Agri-Tech East Stakeholder Group
Julius combines his role of managing director of Greens with a number of non-executive directorships at Management Development Services, G’s Growers and other farming companies. As the UK subsidiary of Spearhead International, Greens farm across 6,000ha. Contract farming arrangements involving cereal and sugar beet cropping are an integral part of the business, built on long term relationships with farmers.
Director, Agri-Tech East
Belinda has led the development and growth of Agri-Tech East from its conception and brings tremendous experience of science and its translation into business opportunities. Originally trained as a plant scientist, Belinda is a Fellow of the Society of Biology and a Chartered Biologist.
Belinda has held senior positions in a number of innovation driven organisations including the role of Lead Technologist for biosciences at Innovate UK (formerly the Technology Strategy Board). She is a council member for the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and a trustee of the Royal Norfolk Agricultural Association.
Her first degree was in Natural Sciences from the University of Cambridge and her PhD was awarded from the John Innes Centre through the University of East Anglia.
The companies which presented in the 2014 Start-Up Showcase
Make sure to take a look through the Start-Up Showcase Hall of Fame to see how our Start-Up Showcase companies have grown and prospered.
GrainSense is a UK/Finnish UK optical device spin-out company, with a patent-protected working prototype of the world’s first hand-held seed analysis tool. This measures the protein, moisture, oil and carbohydrate content of cereals and other crops in the field. These are key determinants of harvest value and processing cost. For instance, a 1% change in protein can affect wheat price by £20+ a tonne.
The device is battery powered, requires only a few grains and takes just seconds for each measurement, with no preparation needed. This allows farmers, seed producers and plant breeders to rapidly measure for the first time in the field the key parameters that drive the value of their crops.
GrainSense is a disruptive technology with no direct competition and a market of €200m pa in the EU alone. Investment is required to bring the product rapidly to market, establish EU sales channels, and take GrainSense to cash-flow positive.
Agrisolum is an agritech start-up looking to enable technology and financial inclusion to farmers, assist them in achieving sustainable food production and support rural empowerment globally.
On technology front, Agrisolum released a cloud-based platform “Agvesto” that provides real time insights to farmers about soil, water and climatic conditions. Platform provides application services such as rainwater harvesting recommendation model using localised rainfall data, Arctic climate risk insights and forecasting model. Agrisolum is collaborating with NASA, US to bring real time precipitation and soil moisture insights derived from NASA’s satellite data to farmers in UK and worldwide.
On financial front, Agrisolum will enable credit to farm businesses in 2015 using a marketplace lending platform via its partner, a platform where ‘sustainable’ and ‘social’ friendly investors can lend to farmers that enable them to build sustainable farm businesses, invest in renewable projects and empower rural livelihoods.
Update: as of mid-2015, Agrisolum have rebranded as Agvesto.
The population of Africa is predicted to more than double to nearly 2 billion by 2050. Agribusiness in the region will need to significantly expand and become more efficient to meet these needs, yet alone take advantage of the foreign trade opportunities that are becoming available to it.
One of the biggest challenges that trading in Africa faces is ensuring that potential external or internal trading partners have access to commercially-relevant information and data in an easily understandable format and centralised location. Poor or incomplete information slows or even completely halts trade and investment opportunities.
AGRIinsight has been developed as an online tool to bring together multiple sources of (public and private) information, translate them into rich, relevant and visual representations on a fully customizable basis. This tool will enable customers, producers, investors, suppliers, networks, planners and other key stakeholders in the region’s food and agricultural production chain to understand complex data and make informed decisions regarding their activities in a highly-fragmented industry.
Arlabion is an agri-tech startup developing new generation agrochemicals for sustainable crop management.
Arlabion seed treatment products act as both fungal inhibitors and plant activators at the same time.They have been proven to be effective on wheat, corn, peppers and tomatoes. Being synthetic chemicals, they are non-toxic and fully biodegradable.
New generation agrochemicals are applied to seeds in extremely low levels of concentration: less than 1 gram per hectare. By stimulating plant biochemical processes, Arlabion compounds enhance plant resistance to pathogens and inhibit the formation of fungal cells. In higher concentrations the compounds can act as a fungicide which will directly act on pathogens.
Laboratory trials and field experiments have been proven to control serious crop diseases such as Root Rot. The current laboratory tests on Septoria control are also looking very promising.
Arlabion agrochemicals can completely replace toxic fungicides and become a new industry standard.
KisanHub is a cloud-based software platform which brings together public and private data to help farmers and agri-food companies take informed decisions about their day-to-day operations and markets. This data-driven decision-making platform will reduce input costs, boost returns, improve farm business efficiency and make farming more sustainable.
Gallery and feedback
“The speakers were of excellent calibre, and the venue choice was inspired!”
“All the presentations were very interesting. The start-up presentations show there are some interesting things going on.”
“I was particularly interested in hearing directly from the farmers what issues they face and what they need. Also hearing from the food industry what they think and what they need, and learning about the core key message on what are the gaps in the system of bringing technology to the market/farmers.”
“Ian Noble’s talk was particularly good, but ALL the speakers were of high quality.”
“I got to speak to a few different farmers with different views, which was very interesting, and I enjoyed all of the speakers – I was particularly interested to hear about the Kellogg’s farmers groups.”
“I found the conference interesting and informative on a personal level. On a practical level, it provided a greater insight into how best to support start-ups and to service their needs.”
“It delivered more than I’d hoped – presenting an absolute goldmine of opportunities.”
“I met a lot of useful contacts and the content of the presentations/panel discussions was very informative.”
Now read the report: Agri-Tech: Adding value to the food chain
We now have a perfect storm where there is a clearly articulated market need for innovation within the agri- food industry and an appetite for change. This report looks at the requirements for new technology by all stages of the value chain and identifies different models for supporting innovation in the industry. It provides an evaluation of the current situation and proposes ways forward.
Agri-Tech East is already making a significant impact on the agri-food industry through its pragmatic approach and this report aims to support the next phase – fast-tracking innovation from lab to field.