GROW 2019/20 is kindly sponsored by
GROW Agri-Tech Business Plan Competition
The GROW Agri-Tech Business Plan Competition was created for those with a good idea or business concept and want to take it to market. GROW has the support of expert members of one of the world’s leading agri-tech innovation ecosystems, which will help maximise your chance of success.
Many of the finalists of previous GROW competitions have gone on to develop their plans into collaborative projects and early-stage businesses, leveraging the unique package of Support Award Prizes donated by the professional, commercial and technical service providers within the Agri-TechE (formerly Agri-Tech East) membership.
Applicants are matched with an industry mentor who has experience of starting a business and/or knowledge of the agricultural sector and the challenges it faces.
Following submission, your plan is shortlisted for further review by the judges, and you will also be given support on preparing a compelling presentation and the opportunity to pitch to potential investors, collaborators and end users.
Finalists will be interviewed by the judges, followed by a presentation about their idea to the judges and an audience of industry experts. The final will also feature a keynote seminar about global investment trends in agri-tech and the role of the UK in the global investment community.
The prizes offer a package of business support that can be selected as appropriate by the winner(s).
GROW 2019/20 is kindly sponsored by
Click the competition tab for more information and details of how to enter.
Closing date for registration is 28th February 2020.
Completed plans must be submitted by 15th April 2020.
The Final will be held on 4th June 2020 in Cambridge
Stimulating agri-tech innovation
Agri-TechE is helping to stimulate innovation in agri-tech and to build a cluster of organisations across the value chain.
It provides a single point of access to the latest funding opportunities and is invaluable to those wanting to gain an insider view of the latest agri-tech and opportunities to meet potential investors, partners and customers.
The REAP conference with its Start-Up Showcase has been a launch-pad for many companies. Agri-TechE also hosts regular networking events on topic subjects in the industry and works with international partners to offer introductions to agri-tech hubs overseas.
GROW is the UK’s first business plan competition for agri-tech. Launched in 2015, it ran successfully again in 2016 and 2017, resulting in companies such as Farming Data. After a break of a couple years (running GROW agri-hackathons in 2018 and July 2019) we’re back with the business plan competition for 2019-2020 and we are looking forward to meeting the next batch of agri-tech entrepreneurs.
GROW Agri-Tech Business Plan Competition
GROW was launched by Agri-Tech East in 2015 as the UK’s first Agri-Tech Business Plan Competition, and is aimed at encouraging entrepreneurial thinking into the industry. After a couple of years off, it’s back and welcoming applications around new ideas supporting agriculture and horticulture.
Entrepreneurs, researchers, farmers and innovators from across the UK are invited to submit a 12-page business plan describing an innovative new technology, product or service that will help improve the efficiency, productivity or sustainability of agriculture and horticulture.
The objective of GROW is to encourage innovative, investable commercial concepts that will have the potential to become new businesses. All those that register an expression of interest will benefit from the support of an experienced mentor to help them to develop the business plan.
GROW 2019/20 is kindly sponsored by
The business plan should identify the market opportunity, the business concept, the management team, their strengths and track record, financial predictions and the funding requirements.
With business support, rent-free accommodation and access to expert help to make your plan a commercial reality, the competition is designed to encourage and support the leaders of the agri-tech businesses of the future.
The competition was launched on 6th November 2019 and will close with the final on 4th June 2020.
Applicants must register an expression of interest by 28th February 2020 and will be assigned an expert mentor to talk through the competition and help them develop their idea and the plan. Applicants that have not pre-registered are not eligible to submit a plan to the competition.
Completed plans must be submitted by 15th April 2020.
Once the competition has closed, a panel of experts will short-list a number of plans to go through to the final – in preparation for this all finalists will attend a workshop to gain advice on creating a compelling presentation.
Final on 4th June 2020. The Final will comprise a one-to-one interview with the Judges, then 10-minute presentation to an audience of industry experts by each finalist, followed by questions from the Judging Panel and wider audience. The winner(s) will be announced the same day.
Entry has now closed. Completed plans must be submitted before 15 April 2020.
By entering this competition you accept the Terms & Conditions, and consent that your details will be used for the purposes of this competition by Agri-TechE and their agents.
GROW 2019/20 Judges
Programme Leader, Sustainable Agriculture and Food Innovation Platform, Innovate UK
Innovate UK is the UK’s innovation agency; its sustainable agriculture and food programme aims to increase productivity while reducing environmental impacts.
Calum studied agriculture and joined ADAS as a farm business adviser covering the Brecklands. After a while in Scotland as a national agricultural specialist for the Bank of Scotland he was transferred back to East Anglia. More recently he joined Innovate UK 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.
Co-Founder and Managing Partner, IQ Capital
Kerry has over 20 years’ venture capital experience, starting with Venture Technologies, a $50m deep tech fund in 1997 achieving high profile exits including Autonomy (IPO), Whereonearth (Yahoo), Trustbase (SunMicrosytems) and Durlacher (IPO). She also worked with an Italian Venture Capital Fund before co-founding IQ Capital.
Kerry focuses on product, market strategy and team dynamics. She sits on several boards including BMLL, Apperio, Bloomsbury AI, KisanHub and Divido and led Sirigen’s exit (Beckton Dickinson). Kerry sits on the BVCA Venture Capital Committee and is a Fellow in Entrepreneurship at Cambridge University, Judge Business School.
MD of Silfield Ltd, and Board Director at the AF Group
Rob worked in the City for 18 years, before going back to the family business Silfield Ltd, based south of Norwich. Silfield produces wheat, barley, oilseed rape, peas and potatoes across 1700 acres. Silfield also has a Red Poll beef herd and has diversified into property management.
Rob built up years of experience in corporate finance at the likes of Deutsche Bank, JP Morgan and NatWest before he managed Silfield Ltd full-time. He is also a Board Director at the AF Group.
GROW 2019/20 Additional Prizes
A free day of consultancy
To support Agri-Tech East’s GROW competition, Agro Mavens is offering one winner a fee-free day of consultancy through its newly launched AgPRelude service. Aimed specifically at start-ups and early-stage companies, it’s a menu-driven, pick-and-choose communications and marketing package. Designed to help young companies build confidence in their marketing strategies, it combines expert knowledge and sector-specific creative activity with an agile, commitment-free approach to outsourcing marketing.
In addition to the prize, Agro Mavens will offer the winner 10% discount on any further work instructed within six months.
Agro Mavens is a marketing agency working exclusively with innovators in agriculture and agri-tech. It helps companies to grow market presence and connect with their customers, changing and shaping perceptions and behaviour, and effecting change to drive demand. Whether strategic consulting, brand development, content creation or technical copywriting, its client experience includes crop protection, animal health, nutrition, machinery and a variety of agri-tech applications.
Allia Future Business Centre
Two months’ access to co-working space at Allia Future Business Centre Cambridge, plus five hours of meeting room use
Allia Future Business Centres are a community for start-ups and companies that are creating solutions to the world’s most pressing issues. Their Future Business Centres provide flexible workspace, workshops and makerspaces, plus event and meeting rooms. In addition to inspiring workspace, they also offer venture support programmes and mentoring to early-stage start-ups to accelerate their success and growth.
Allia Future Business Centres are passionate about the protecting the future, so they empower those whose innovations address the UN Sustainable Development Goals, creating social and environmental change at a local or global level. Their innovation centres are strong communities where ventures feel at home and are supported so they can thrive and grow, creating job opportunities and greater positive impact.
IP advice and support
Appleyard Lees is a leading intellectual property law firm, with over 50 patent and trademark attorneys and litigators. With offices in UK innovation hotspots, including Cambridge, it is positioned to give clients expert strategic IP advice in the UK and worldwide.
Appleyard Lees’ team of patent attorneys have a deep knowledge of agri-tech related technologies, such as robotics, artificial intelligence, plant biology, agrochemicals and biological crop protection. This includes attorneys with PhD degrees in subject matters, including plant science and machine learning.
A number of our attorneys have previously worked in-house with UK companies and are particularly experienced in providing commercially relevant advice to their clients.
Its attorneys handle all IP matters, including drafting and filing patent applications, registering trade marks and advising on third party rights.
As a prize in GROW competition, Appleyard Lees is offering IP advice and support. This could be used in drawing up an IP strategy as part of your business plan, help with drafting and filing a patent, trademarking advice or research into the competitive IP landscape. For any additional work over and above the value of the prize, we will also offer a 10% discount on our fees.
One month club membership at an Eagle Lab of the winners choice
Eagle Labs are a growing national network of incubator spaces that provide business incubation, mentoring and co-working and office space for ambitious high-growth businesses as well as digital skills development and rapid prototyping through onsite digital fabrication equipment and Industry 4.0 expertise at many sites.
By cultivating a community of likeminded entrepreneurs through a providing a collaborative work environment, access to their peers and opportunities to maximise growth through digital connections, curated events and funding opportunities, Eagle Labs are able to help start-ups to grow at pace.
Eagle Labs also specialise in positively disrupting key industries by bringing together key corporate players, industry bodies, leading universities and start-ups to enable rapid innovation and investment by asking them to collaborate and currently have dedicated LawTech, HealthTech and AgriTech industry-aligned programmes.
With 25 Eagle Labs across the country and more in the pipeline, their focus is to help to connect, educate and accelerate ambitious UK businesses and entrepreneurs.
Cambridge Judge Business School
A free place on the Ignite Course.
A free place on the Ignite Programme
Ignite is a five and half day course which runs every summer at Cambridge Judge Business School. The programme is a structured blend of: keynotes by faculty, practical teaching sessions with industry specialists, one-to-one clinics and mentor sessions. This is augmented by access to a rich network of experienced entrepreneurs and innovators from the Cambridge ecosystem. The experience provides participants with the tools, contacts and confidence to transform ideas into successful business projects or ventures.
The Entrepreneurship Centre at Cambridge Judge Business School aims to inspire, enable and research entrepreneurship. The Centre encompasses the full entrepreneurial journey – starting with the empowerment of aspiring entrepreneurs through to the creation and development of early-stage ventures, all the way to small and medium size enterprise growth.
Eastern Agri-Tech Innovation Hub (NIAB)
6 months’ free license at the Eastern Agri-Tech Innovation Hub
Demonstrating new processes or using the field experimentation facilities as test beds for the latest technologies all fall into the Hub’s remit. Hub users have access to research and business development support, enabling them to introduce novel products and new growing techniques, and to improve productivity and waste reduction.
The Eastern AgriGate Research Hub was set up in 2015 to address the need for growth and development in the horticultural production area in the Fenlands around Soham, and to seek ways of improving sustainable use of resources; including reducing or improving utilisation of the waste streams generated by the farming industry and supply chains.
The Hub is more than just a physical space. It offers businesses an open forum to discuss ideas, get the latest results from research, and find ways to access support and funding streams for further development.
Eight weeks free at Green Lab
Green Lab will offer eight weeks’ incubator access for early stage agri-tech businesses to develop their product/service using its Material Lab, Bio Lab, Grow Space and Digital Fabrication Lab – Green Lab will waive any membership fees or rental costs for hosting projects.
Green Lab will assist in developing the winning idea/concept through mentoring, business evaluation and suitability to scale. Any utility costs as a result of significant lighting systems will need to be evaluated prior to installation, and subject to cost if appropriate. Access must be used within two months of being awarded. Green Lab will provide access to services 9-6 (M-F) at the London site only; access does not include materials.
Green Lab is an open innovation lab and ecosystem for individuals and organisations to design sustainable solutions to complex urban food, water and waste challenges. Encouraging creativity, collaboration, experimentation and play, Green Lab incubate ideas that make food systems more productive and resilient, and that can put more natural and healthy food on our tables.
12 weeks (three months) of hot-desk space, and an initial business consultation
Incubyte is delighted to offer the GROW competition winner 12 weeks of complementary hot-desk space located in the co-working hub of IncubyteSpace, alongside an initial business consultation with CEO Rob Precious.
Rob launched Incubyte, the business incubator, in 2017. He is now a consultant, Angel Investor and Advisor to a number of exciting technology start-ups spanning media and entertainment as well as agri-tech.
Additional benefits of the prized hot-desking include:
- Free membership to the onsite health and fitness club
- 10% discount to the onsite cafe and bistro
Incubyte provides entrepreneurs and early stage companies with a dedicated co-working environment in which they can work alongside, and network with, like-minded businesses. Mentoring programmes designed specifically for entrepreneurs working in agri-tech and other deep tech sectors make Incubyte the perfect business incubator for start-ups and scale-ups who seek professional and expert advice.
Kendalls PR & Marketing
PR Consultation and Audit to the value of £1,500
The winner of the Agri-Tech East GROW Business Plan Competition will receive a PR Consultation and Audit, to the value of £1,500. Kendalls will work with the winner to provide PR and Marketing expertise, constructing a PR strategy and plan for a 12 month period.
The prize is valid for 12 months after the day it is awarded and excludes travel expenses.
Kendalls PR & Marketing specialises in agriculture, rural affairs and associated industries, offering a fully integrated range of PR and marketing services, specialising in media relations, issues management, public relations, digital marketing and event management.
Kendalls has a wide range of clients throughout the agricultural, horticultural and land-based sectors, from environment and energy to animal health and arable. As well as looking after clients connected with food, farming and the countryside, their client base also extends to government bodies and agencies, charities, professional firms, local authorities, small businesses and multi-nationals, drawn from a wide range of disciplines.
Mathys & Squire
IP advice and support
Ranked Tier 1 by Legal 500, Mathys & Squire is a world-leading specialist Intellectual Property (IP) firm, providing Patent, Trade Mark, Design and Litigation services in all technology sectors including Life Sciences, Chemistry, IT and Engineering, as well as advising on and filing plant variety rights.
Mathys & Squire has an impressive global client base and act for large UK and multinational clients, as well as smaller start-ups, university spin-outs and technology transfer organisations. They work with a number of agricultural companies, such as Syngenta, Neudorff, Seasol, and Nufarm Australia Ltd. The team has extensive experience in this field, including PhD-level crop research experience in collaboration with multinational agricultural companies.
Norwich Research Park
Virtual tenancy at Centrum, Norwich Research Park
Norwich Research Park is delighted to offer this prize to Agri-Tech East’s GROW Business Plan Competition 2020 winners! A virtual tenancy at Norwich Research Park can help your business to communicate professionalism, establish a local presence and support early growth. This unique prize includes:
- £400 (inc VAT) towards meeting room hire in Centrum, Norwich Research Park’s award-winning hub building
- £200 (inc VAT) towards catering
- 20% discount on meeting room hire (not to be used in conjunction with £400 room hire prize)
- Your business name featured on the Centrum building’s Tenancy Board
- Prime business address on Norwich Research Park and your business details featured on the NRP website
- Mail and package receipt and reception services
- Informal client drop-off/pick-up point
From the soil to human health, Norwich Research Park’s vision is to change lives and rethink society through pioneering research and innovation, reframing the future of research.
NRP has over 3,000 scientists, researchers and clinicians working at the cutting edge of understanding human, plant and soil health, food production and synthetic biology. They are part of a unique community that includes a major university teaching hospital (the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust), a leading university (the University of East Anglia) and four internationally significant research institutes: John Innes Centre, Quadram Institute, Earlham Institute and The Sainsbury Laboratory. Taken together, they form one of Europe’s largest centres for research, innovation, education and commercialisation in the food and health sector.
Free two-hour sessions with a finance partner and with an R&D specialist
PwC is offering a free two hour session with an experienced Finance partner to help the winner meet their accounting requirements, as well as a free two hour session with an R&D specialist to help optimise tax credits.
My Financepartner is PwC’s tailored accounting service for ambitious start-ups and fast growing businesses that demand more. Unlike most accountants, My Financepartner is designed to work as an extension to an existing finance team or as an alternative to hiring one at all.
In addition, PwC is offering access to Nifty R&D with 50% off the standard fee. Nifty R&D is a PwC-powered online tool that helps small businesses apply for Research & Development Tax Credits in the UK whilst having access to experience R&D claim professionals. The winner would need to register an account with PwC and answer a few simple questions for PwC to review and complete the claim.
PwC is passionate about start-ups and scale-ups. Working across artificial intelligence, life sciences and AgriTech industry sectors, its clients range from SMEs to some of the most recognised businesses in Cambridge and the South East region.
Redfox Executive Selection
Psychometric testing for up to four people
The team at Redfox Executive Selection are very pleased to offer the opportunity to deploy up to four industry leading Psychometric test reports for your team. Many HR and Development professionals increasingly rely on online conducted psychometrics to play a crucial role in identifying the best candidates or spotting top talent within your business by their use. They can be used to select outstanding talent, learn what motivates those who work in your organisation, understand the strengths and development needs of your people, and standardise your selection/development processes to make them more objective and robust.
Redfox is a Recruitment Consultancy working with key Agri-Business and Fresh Food businesses in the UK and internationally to source the highest calibre mid-management to Board level individuals across all disciplines.
Six months’ free hot-desking
Rothamsted Enterprises prize of six months’ free hot-desking allows users up to 20 hours of hot-desking space per month at the Rothamsted AgriTech Business Centre.
At the heart of agricultural research, Rothamsted Enterprises is a unique hub focused on promoting collaboration and innovation by partnering with commercial agri-tech businesses and opening up the research process.
Rothamsted Enterprises is located on the same campus as Rothamsted Research’s many scientists, so can offer tenant companies access to award-winning expertise in a range of disciplines from genomics to field ecology, and, with their extensive national and international network of collaborative organisations, Rothamsted Enterprises is the perfect partner for collaboration and innovation plans.
Satellite Applications Catapult
Two days of technical consultancy with a leading expert in Earth Observation
The Satellite Applications Catapult is offering two days of technical consultancy with a leading expert in Earth Observation. The Catapult is offering the winner consultancy around the use and exploitation of Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) data for agricultural applications. Consultancy can include aspects such as training around the basic of SAR, processing and analysis of the data, as well as evaluation of current processing chains and algorithms.
The Satellite Applications Catapult exists to boost UK productivity by helping organisations harness the power of satellite-based services. Their Agriculture strategy is committed to the creation and development of truly sustainable global agri-food supply chains empowered by satellite enabled solutions. With a focus on global sustainable supply chains and high value production, their vision is to unlock industry led commercialisation of satellite enabled products and services through exploiting the Catapult’s non-competitive, neutral trusted status to create strategic partnerships delivering growth and jobs to UK businesses.
A big thank you to the sponsor of GROW 2019/20
Innovate UK is part of UK Research and Innovation, a non-departmental public body funded by a grant-in-aid from the UK government.
The organisation drives productivity and economic growth by supporting businesses to develop and realise the potential of new ideas, including those from the UK’s world-class research base. It has around 300 staff, drawn mainly from business working across the UK, with a head office in Swindon.
With a strong business focus, Innovate UK drive growth by working with companies to de-risk, enable and support innovation by connecting businesses to the partners, customers and investors and funding business and research collaborations.
Since 2007 Innovate UK have committed over £1.8 billion to innovation and across all sectors, which has been matched by a similar amount in partner and business funding. Innovate UK has helped some 8,000 organisations with projects estimated to add more than £16 billion to the UK economy and create nearly 70,000 jobs.
Calum Murray, Innovate UK’s Programme Leader for Sustainable Agriculture and Food Innovation Platform, said of GROW: “The role of Innovate UK is to work with people, companies and partner organisations to find and drive the science and technology innovations that will grow the UK economy. Innovate UK is committed to supporting Agri-TechE and the cluster, and we are very happy to be supporting GROW.”
Read more about Innovate UK on their member page here.
In 2018 and 2019, our GROW activities took the form of an agri-hackathon, providing industry expertise and technologies to “sprint” towards developing exciting new ideas for agriculture.
48 hours to save the world!
Changes to the UK climate will impact our ability to produce food – predictions include periods of too much or too little water, increasing average and extreme temperatures, and sea level rise.
However with the right approaches and technologies there is an opportunity to mitigate these impacts and to embrace the change.
If constraints such as water availability and soil fertility are managed, agriculture and forestry may be able to increase production with warmer weather and longer growing seasons. Offering adaptation-related goods and services may provide economic opportunities for UK businesses in global markets.
Necessity is the mother of invention – so our second Hackathon called on you to rise to the biggest challenge and think about solutions.
48 hours to feed the world!
Ideas can change the world … for the better
At our first Hackathon we gave participants a couple of days to feed the world.
Solutions emerged for improved use of big data in agriculture, unexpected innovations for vertical farming, and the winner, deployment of gaming technologies to identify weeds in the field. Several of these concepts are now being progressed.
Articles about GROW
GROW 2019/20 Terms and Conditions
- The Agri-Tech Business Plan Competition (hereafter “the Competition”) welcomes business plans describing new commercial opportunities based around new products or services to help increase the productivity, efficiency and sustainability of agricultural and horticultural production, or downstream food processing.
- In this context, “agriculture” refers to crop and livestock production and management. “Horticulture” refers to fresh produce, ornamentals, fruit, nuts, algae, herbs and seeds. Both food and non-food crops are within scope of the Competition.
- Applications should demonstrate a degree of innovation which may, for example, be either technology-based or built around new business models. They should clearly describe how they would help meet one or more of the objectives of improving productivity, efficiency or sustainability within agriculture or horticulture. Innovations based on crop bioscience or chemistry, novel engineering solutions, or ICT/systems based ideas are all within scope. Business plans relating to retail (such as farm shops, for example), or business diversification (such as tourism, equine, or repurposing of farm buildings into, for example, business units) are not in scope for this Competition.
- The innovation may have application and impact outside the UK, but the founding entrepreneur must be resident in the UK and intend founding the business within the UK.
- Plans that describe a fictitious business idea, or are based on imaginary science or technology are not eligible. They must describe a real-world innovation with which the applicant(s) have freedom-to-operate. Where know-how or intellectual property exists that underpins the proposed plan, applicants must either own, or have secured this prior to submission of the plan.
- Applicants must declare the date, amount and source of any funding (public or private) which has already been secured to develop the innovation or business. Applicants do not have to have a registered business to develop the innovation, however those that are already incorporated must clearly explain how this is expected be a new commercial entity. Plans that describe amendments or expansions to existing businesses or companies are not eligible for the Competition.
- The Competition will open on 6th November 2019. Applicants must register an expression of interest by 28th February 2020 for successful assignation of a mentor. Plans will not by accepted without prior assignation of a mentor. Closing date for submission of business plans is 15th April 2020. No plans will be accepted after that date.
- Applications should submit a Business Plan comprising no more than 12 pages (including Appendices) to: email@example.com. Postal entries will not be accepted unless with the express written permission of a representative of Agri-TechE. No additional information will be accepted, but contact details of the lead applicant must be provided as a condition of entry. A template for submissions has not been provided; part of the judging process will be clarity of the plans and the information the applicant(s) choose to include.
- Plans will be sifted by an expert panel comprising key stakeholders from the agri-tech, investment and business communities. A short-listed group of finalists will be invited to deliver a presentation of no more than 10 minutes (plus up to an additional 10 minutes for Judges’ questions) to a panel of Judges, from whom the winner(s) will be selected. The Judges’ decision is final and no further correspondence will be entered into, unless with the express agreement of individual Judge(s) and applicants(s). The Final will be held on 4th June 2020 in Cambridge
- Non-disclosure agreements will not be entered into by the mentors, judges, Support Award Prize donors, or employees of Agri-TechE. Applicants submit their ideas and plans under the explicit understanding of this.
- Any publicity surrounding the winner(s) will be discussed and agreed between the winner(s), Agri-TechE and/or representatives of both parties where appropriate to prevent inappropriate disclosures.
- Applicants may submit more than one business plan, but each winning plan can receive only one cash prize and up to three Support Award Prizes in total.
- Winner(s) will receive a cash prize as well as further Support Award Prizes to develop their business plan into commercial reality.
- One first-prize winner receive a cash prize and will have the choice of up to three Support Award Prizes. Further prizes will be distributed only at the discretion of Agri-TechE and the Support Award donors.
- Support Award Prizes may include, but are not limited to, additional mentoring/coaching, access to investors, provision of short-term business accommodation to help start the company, and ongoing support to network within the business ecosystem.
- Support Award Prizes cannot be exchanged for cash or equivalent liquid funds.
- Support Award Prizes must be used within 12 months of the date of announcement; any Support Award Prizes not used after this time may be forfeited.
- The Support Award Prizes are provided at the absolute discretion of the donors. Agri-TechE and its representatives accept no responsibility or liability for the Support Award Prizes, the nature of the Support Award Prizes provided by the donor, or any consequences resulting from the selection and delivery of the Support Award Prizes.