Bird’s Eye revolutionised the pea industry when it introduced its ‘150 minutes to frozen’ promise using its processing plant in Great Yarmouth, according to Richard Hirst, recently appointed Chairman of Anglia Farmers. The problem, he says, is that “too little innovation has happened in the industry since the early 1970s.”
Anglia Farmers is a member of Agri-Tech East and committed to encouraging entrepreneurial activity. It sponsored the January Agri-Tech East Pollinator meeting, which provided a roundup of all the public funding available to innovators within the agri-industry,
Richard Hirst comments: “Agri-tech provides a host of business opportunities. One example is pea production. The thrashing mechanism of the current pea harvester means that 10-15% of every harvest is lost in the field. If this was improved it would instantly improve yields and open up an international market for anyone who develops an improved harvester.
“Another example is our processing plants; once world leading, they now use double the energy of those in the EU. This adds to the cost of production and means that prospects for new factories and jobs are being lost.
“There is currently an appetite within the agri-food value chain for innovation and funding is available to support research and development. By supporting this meeting I hope that entrepreneurs will grasp the opportunity that exists in agri-tech and take advantage of this financial support.”
The Agri-Tech East Pollinator provided an overview of the funding that is available from different sources and guidance on how to apply.
Dr Belinda Clarke, Director of Agri-Tech East, says: “This Pollinator aimed to demystify the application process so that people that have not previously considered applying for funding will be encouraged to do so. It was a unique opportunity to network with other like-minded individuals and to meet with a number of representatives from the major agri-tech funding agencies all in one place.”
Organisations represented included: BBSRC, Innovate UK, Enterprise Europe Network, ADAPT Commercial, and the Eastern Agri-Tech Growth Initiative.