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REAP Conference 2015: Resilience Through Innovation

Wednesday 11th November 2015 @ 10:00 am - 6:00 pm

“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”

– Albert Einstein

A challenge in one industry creates a business opportunity for another. Within the agri-food reducing risk is a key driver. New thinking that improves resilience to adversity has the potential to increase profitability in this complex industry.

At the REAP conference we invited a number of leading producers, all innovators in their own disciplines, to articulate the challenges they face in delivering top quality products to leading retailers, processors and suppliers.

Managing uncertainty, forecasting and prediction, precision delivery to reduce inputs, these are all areas that are also familiar to the technologists that are joining the discussion, bringing insights from their experiences in other markets.

Programme highlights

Hear what attendees thought and read the report

REAP 2015 - Resilience Through Innovation cover
Click to view the REAP 2015 report


10:00   Coffee and networking


10:30   Welcome and introduction

Julius Joel, MD, Greens of Soham and Chair, Agri-Tech East Stakeholder Group.


10:40   Introduction to Agri-Tech East

Dr Belinda Clarke, Director, Agri-Tech East.


10.50   Producers Panel

Sponsored by Savills

Tim Whitehead, Farm Manager, Vine Farm, Royston

Brian Barker, EJ Barker and Sons, HGCA Monitor Farm, Stowmarket

Andrew Francis, Farms Manager, Elveden Estate


12.00   Lunch


13.15   The role of new innovations in agriculture; the retailer perspective

Sue Lockhart, Head of Agriculture, Sainsbury’s


13.40   A Vision for Plant and Animal Health; Harnessing the Internet of Agri-Things

Prof. Jackie Hunter, Chief Executive, BBSRC


14.00   Converging Technologies For Agriculture

Matthew Smith / Drew Purves, Computational Ecology Dept, Microsoft Research

Vladimir Stoiljkovic, Business Development Manager, Satellite Applications Catapult

Simon Cassia, CEO, Plextek Ltd

Cliff Dive, VP, Business Development, Argon Design


15.00   Tea break


15.30   Start-up Showcase

Sponsored by Rothamsted Centre for Research and Enterprise


16.30   Keynote address

Meurig Raymond, President, National Farmers’ Union


17.00   Evening Reception


18.00   Event close and depart



Julius Joel

Julius Joel

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.

Producers' Panel

Angela Karp

Chair: Professor Angela Karp

Scientific Director, Rothamsted Research

Angela has more than 35 years’ experience in crop genetics and breeding for food and bio-renewables. Her recent research career focused on optimising the sustainable yield and composition of perennial biomass crops (especially willows) for bioenergy, biofuels and other industrial products, under low-input arable systems. She has more than 130 refereed publications, co-authored a text book on genetics, and is co-editor of books on genetics and bioenergy. In 2007, she received the Royal Agricultural Society of England Research Medal and, in 2008, the Alfred-Toepfer Prize for her research achievements.

Tim Whitehead

Tim Whitehead

Farm Manager, Vine Farm

Tim Whitehead works for Velcourt, Europe’s largest farm management and advisory company and is the Farm Manager on Vine Farm in Hertfordshire. The farm is 1300 Ha and grows winter wheat, winter oil seed rape, spring beans, peas, spring barley and sugar beet in nutrient rich clay soil, which gives good yields. 100 Ha of the farm is currently being converted into a solar farm for the National Grid. Tim also provides agronomic advice to a large farmer-owned co-operative in Northern France.

Andrew Francis

Andrew Francis

Senior Farm Manager, Elveden Farm

Andrew Francis is senior farm manager of Elveden Estates. Elveden is a 22,500 acre country estate, of which over 10,000 acres is farmland. The farm grows potatoes, onions, carrots and parsnips and cereals such as rye, barley and wheat. The farm annually carries out a range of agronomic and technological trials to ensure the soil condition is enhanced, farmed sustainably and remains fertile and productive for generations to come.

Brian Barker

Brian Barker

Farmer, Lodge Farm

Brian and his cousin Patrick run Lodge Farm, a family farm partnership. The farm is run on a 12-year rotation including winter wheat for feed, spring barley, herbage grass seed, oilseed rape and a break crop of beans, linseed or peas. Using this traditional crop rotation with a grass ley and no root crops allows the soil to thrive and produce great harvests.

The role of new innovations in agriculture; the retailer perspective

Andrew Burgess

Chair: Andrew Burgess

Director of Agriculture at Produce World

Andrew was born and raised in vegetable farming, attending Shuttleworth Agricultural College before moving on to do every role imaginable in Fresh Produce. Andrew is a big fan of Environmental Farming, including organic. He is currently on the NFU Horticulture Board and has served on the LEAF board, Soil Association, AHDB & British Carrot Growers.

Sue Lockhart

Sue Lockhart

Head of Agriculture, Sainsbury’s

Sue Lockhart is the Head of Agriculture at Sainsbury’s. Sainsbury’s has built relationships with more than 2,200 UK farmers and growers over the last 7 years with the aim of producing great quality, safe, nutritious food for their customers, whilst ensuring that the company’s sourcing values are observed throughout the chain and using data to help farmers and growers identify how they can improve their efficiency. The company recognises the critical role that technology and innovation can play in increasing resilience in the food chain and Sue will talk about some of the projects Sainsbury’s has taken in this area.

A Vision for Plant and Animal Health; Harnessing the Internet of Agri-Things

Jackie Hunter

Jackie Hunter

Chief Executive, BBSRC

Jackie Hunter is the Chief Executive of BBSRC, the main funder of world-leading UK bioscience research and training. BBSRC aims to promote innovation in the bioeconomy, creating economic growth and social benefits. BBSRC is committed to fund key strategic areas, one of which is agriculture and food security. BBSRC drives innovation in the biosciences by fostering interactions, collaborations and technology transfer between the science community and end users.

Converging Technologies For Agriculture

Leslie May

Chair: Dr Leslie May

Head of Solutions Innovation at Syngenta

Clifford Dive

Clifford Dive

Vice President of Business Development, Argon Design

Clifford Dive studied Engineering Science at Oxford University and has since pursued a broad-ranging career in hi-tech product development, in recent years focusing on product management and business development, currently as VP Business Development at Argon Design. Argon is an electronic product design services company with a successful record of helping our customers to develop products for a broad range of markets including medical, industrial control, wireless communications and consumer products. With core skills in electronic and software design, we have particular world-class capability in video and image processing and products for the Internet of Things.

Matthew Smith

Matthew Smith

Computational Ecologist, Microsoft Research

Matthew Smith is an ecologist in the Computational Science Laboratory at Microsoft Research. He is working on the application of computer modelling to a number of agricultural challenges, including better matching supply with demand, in order to develop improved systems for prediction and forecasting.

Simon Cassia

Simon Cassia

CEO, Plextek Consulting

Simon Cassia is the CEO of Plextek Consulting, one of the largest independent electronics design consultancies in Europe. It currently provides an electronics design service for security and defence, medical, automotive and the Internet of Things applications and is looking to apply its capabilities and experience within agri-tech.

Start-Up Showcase

Chris Dunkley

Chair: Chris Dunkley

Chief Executive Officer, Rothamsted Centre for Research and Enterprise

Chris joined Rothamsted in October2013 and was instrumental in the creation of RoCRE. He has been CEO since September 2015 and leads a multi-skilled team who work to facilitate and foster meaningful connections for the benefits of all in the agri related research sectors.

Prior to joining Rothamsted, he was Head of NPD and Marketing at Ipsos Retail Performance, bringing online analytical products to global markets. Chris was founding director of The Sparc Technology Network and Bright Sparc Awards for Technology Led businesses and has a background in technology and research related business incubation, running a number of successful incubation and high growth programmes, leading teams in both start-ups and global organisations.

Keynote address: Agri-tech: the future of farming?

Tina Barsby

Chair: Dr Tina Barsby


Tina is a plant geneticist well-respected for her scientific achievements and significant experience in the agricultural crop sector. She has led and managed multifaceted, product driven, research and development programmes in North America and UK/mainland Europe.

She is also a member of the Agri-Food Technology Council.

Tina has a first degree in Agricultural Botany from the University of Wales at Bangor, and a PhD from the University of Nottingham.

Meurig Raymond

Meurig Raymond

President, NFU

Meurig Raymond has been President of the NFU since 2014 and farms 3,400 acres in Pembrokeshire. With over 55,000 members across England and Wales, the NFU champions British farming and provides professional representation and services to its farmer and grower members.

Closing remarks

Dr Belinda Clarke, Agri-Tech East

Belinda Clarke

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.

A big thanks to our sponsors...

Field Sponsor


Field Sponsor

The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) is the UK’s largest public funder of agricultural research, and is one of seven Research Councils that work together as Research Councils UK (RCUK).

Agriculture and food security is a priority for BBSRC and we aim to realise the potential of scientific advances to deliver innovations for farming. We support around 1600 scientists in universities and institutes across the UK.

BBSRC is supporting the next generation of bioscience researchers by funding around 2000 research students in the UK. All students participate in a funded three-month placement to carry out a work unrelated to their doctoral research. Such experience is important both to help early career researchers understand the context of their research and to expose them to the range of opportunities in which they can apply their PhD skills and training after they graduate.

Find out more by visiting: www.bbsrc.ac.uk or following @BBSRC. For more information about our support for PhD training or hosting a placement please visit www.bbsrc.ac.uk/dtp or contact dtp@bbsrc.ac.uk

Field Sponsor

Norwich Research Park

Field Sponsor

Norwich Research Park is a truly unique location; it is one of the largest single-site concentrations of research in food, health and life science in Europe, all located within a 1 km radius of each other. The Park is home to four independent world-renowned research institutes, a university and a hospital. There are over 12,000 employees including 3,000 researchers and clinicians with an annual research spend of over £100 million.

Our capability to provide a strong supportive environment for innovation coupled to a broad range of skills and leading edge technologies in the agribiotech sector makes the REAP conference a natural choice for Norwich Research Park to support.

Norwich Research Park has a comprehensive portfolio of accommodation that provides opportunities for companies to locate there at any stage in their development, from initial start-up in a shared building to an independent company in standalone premises.

Sponsor of the Start-Up Showcase

Rothamsted Centre for Research and Enterprise

Sponsor of the Start-Up Showcase

At the heart of agricultural research, The Rothamsted Centre for Research and Enterprise, RoCRE, is a unique hub focused on promoting collaboration and innovation by partnering with commercial agricultural technology businesses and opening up the research process.

Renowned for our expertise as the world’s oldest agri-science research centre, RoCRE offers state of the art conference facilities, flexible collaborative laboratory space and lab incubation units that are home to a vibrant community of AgriTech start up and growth businesses. 2017 will see the first Rothamsted Open Innovation Forum and the launch of the Agri Grand Challenge-Led Research Innovation Accelerator – AgRIA.

We are delighted to be the sponsors of the Start-Up Showcase at REAP. RoCRE are committed to supporting innovation and excellence in agri-tech research, particularly in the East of England and through our partners such as Agri-Tech East.

Sponsor of the Producers' Panel


Sponsor of the Producers’ Panel

Farmers have traditionally been price takers not price makers but from now on it will be those businesses that innovate, diversify and evolve – differentiating themselves in the marketplace – that are set to thrive. The successful farm will need to adopt the most efficient and productive technologies and farming systems, harvesting and scrutinising data to inform decision making.

Savills provides a range of specialist management and consultancy services to food and farming businesses, delivering practical support and guidance in a constantly changing industry. We understand that farming today covers wide-ranging activities and that many farms operate as complex enterprises, so our involvement draws on the broadest land and property expertise in the UK.

Find out more at savills.co.uk

Poster session:

“Improve access to the latest research findings” is a request that we often hear from the farming community, so along with a fantastic line-up of speakers at this year’s REAP conference Agri-Tech East is also featuring a poster session from a cross section of the region’s research institutes to give a flavour of the work currently under way.

Posters are what the academics use at conferences to encapsulate a lot of information on a single sheet of paper.

Click a poster below to view it larger.

Gallery and feedback

Click an image to view it larger and see the caption.

“I really enjoyed the Producers’ Panel – at the conferences I’ve been attending, there’s often so few if any producers and we really need them in the room to understand the push/pull for new agri-tech.”

“It was a really worthwhile day for me – thanks for the very obvious amount of thought and planning that went into making a really good conference.”

“The Start-Up Showcase was excellent: great format, speakers and moderator.”

“The Start-Up Showcase was a great opportunity to see some of the cool agri-tech start-ups, particularly the interesting theme of how technology, such as apps and purchasing platforms, can benefit farmers who have traditionally had mobile connectivity issues on their farms.”

“Fantastic to see such a high profile speaker doing the Keynote Address. Meurig had a great grasp of the macro factors affecting the UK farming industry as a whole, and was passionate in his advocacy for the industry going forward. “

“The participants in the networking session were all very knowledgeable individuals from a wide range of backgrounds in agri-tech, so there were a lot of interesting discussions and perspectives. The networking event itself was nice and informal, and it felt like a very open environment to approach people and make introductions. Also, a few glasses of wine helped!”

REAP 2015 - Resilience Through Innovation cover
Click to view the REAP 2015 report
Agri-Tech East Director Belinda Clarke at REAP 2015
Agri-Tech East Director Belinda Clarke at REAP 2015

Thank you to all those who attended and participated in REAP 2015 and helped to make it a great day. See you next year!


Wednesday 11th November 2015
10:00 am - 6:00 pm
Event Category:
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Churchill College, Storey’s Way, Cambridge CB3 0DS
Churchill College, Storey’s Way
Cambridge, CB3 0DS United Kingdom