Press release

£5 million for agricultural innovation

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Businesses and universities across the UK will benefit from a share of £5 million of funding from government and industry

Businesses and universities across the UK will benefit from a share of £5 million of funding from government and industry to develop innovations to solve some of the world’s greatest agricultural challenges such as food security and sustainability, weed control and livestock disease.

Infographics: Food Security

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This £5 million is part of the second round of funding to be distributed through the £70 million Agri-Tech Catalyst, announced as part of the UK Industrial Strategy for Agricultural Technologies in July 2013.

The Agri-Tech Catalyst is designed to support collaborative research between scientists and businesses to springboard projects from the lab to the market place. Innovations in this round include an autonomous robot weed sprayer for difficult terrain farm land and developing a cereal to create improved bread products for diabetics.

Universities, Science and Cities Minister Greg Clark said:

Investing in agricultural technology today will bring commercial rewards tomorrow, taking the critical steps from lab to market place. It’s all part of the government’s long term economic plan to create more jobs and promote growth through industrial strategy.

International Development Secretary Justine Greening said:

By funding the development of new solutions to prevent diseases in rice or stop food loss to fruit flies we can ensure that millions of people in the developing world have a more dependable supply of both the staple foods they rely on and high value goods for sale. These solutions mean they can feed their families, earn an income, send their children to school and ultimately lift themselves out of poverty.

The 13 projects, which fall into 2 key areas of the agriculture sector – crops and livestock, will receive £4 million funding from government and £1.3 million co-investment from industry. This follows the round 1 investment of £4 million in March 2014 and £18 million in July 2014.

Infographics: Improving Crops

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Lord de Mauley said:

Investing in exciting technology in UK food and farming helps us grow this vital industry – from field to fork the food chain contributes £97 billion to our economy and employs 1 in 8 people.

Whether it’s safeguarding animals and crops against disease or using robotics to farm the land, cutting edge projects like these not only contribute to our growing economy but benefit the environment and increase global food security.

Professor Jackie Hunter, BBSRC Chief Executive, said:

This second round of Agri-Tech Catalyst funding will help translate some of the UK’s world-leading bioscience research into new technologies for agriculture, to help feed a growing population sustainably whilst creating new opportunities for economic growth and jobs in the UK and around the world.

These exciting projects will turn research into practice, helping to boost crop yields, protect livestock and improve the sustainability of food production.

Some of these ground-breaking projects include:

  • exploring pearl millet variation to produce improved bread products for diabetics
  • developing rice resistance to 2 major diseases to support food security in Asia
  • autonomous systems for remotely monitoring an invasive fruit pest
  • developing a robotic weed sprayer for difficult terrain farm land
  • decreasing food waste through the control of fruit flies in Asia and Africa
  • exploring the use of genome-screening and other technology to reduce the mastitis disease in sheep

Infographics: Engineering Sensor Technology

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Iain Gray, CEO of the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK, said:

This is just the latest in what will be a series of ongoing funding awards from the Agri-Tech Catalyst to innovative companies, developing potentially lucrative solutions to crop and livestock challenges. The companies we’ve supported through the Agri-Tech Catalyst have all developed innovations with the potential to transform current agri-tech approaches and achieve commercial success. We’re proud to be supporting them on their journey from concept to commercialisation.

Notes to editors

  1. Launched in October 2013, the Catalyst supports industry-led ‘proof of concept’ development of near-market agricultural innovations. Designed to attract co-investment from industry, the Catalyst will aim to involve small and medium sized enterprises alongside larger companies. The £70 million government investment includes £10 million to support the transfer of technology and new products to developing countries.
  2. The £70 million Agri-Tech Catalyst is funded by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, and the Department for International Development.
  3. The Agri-Tech Catalyst is run by Innovate UK and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.
  4. This is the first announcement from Round 2 of the Catalyst.
    • the 13 projects, worth over £5 million, will explore the commercial potential of industrial or academic agri-tech research
  5. £4 million Round 1 Agri-Tech Catalyst projects were announced in March 2014.
    • 11 projects received £2.8 million funding from government with £1.4 million co-investment from industry
  6. The Prime Minister announced £18 million for the Round 1 Agri-Tech Catalyst Industrial Research projects in July 2014.
    • 15 projects received £12 million funding from government with £6 million co-investment from industry
  7. Details on how to apply for Round 3 of the Agri-Tech Catalyst can be found at the early stage, late stage and industrial research Catalyst web pages.
  8. For regional case studies please contact Emma Brown on 020 7215 5981 or emma.brown@bis.gsi.gov.uk
  9. Further details on the projects awarded funding can be found at Agri-Tech Catalyst - Early-stage awards - round 2 and Agri-Tech Catalyst - Late-stage awards - round 2.