A new conference in the south west of England promises to showcase the latest opportunities and developments within the agri-tech sector.
The region is already considered a major player in agri-tech, with 14 universities offering various research specialisms and collaboration opportunities within the industry.
“Following the G7 summit in Cornwall there has been a lot of discussion around the wealth of talent we have in the area,” explained Joanna Rufus, chair of South West Agri-tech. “We have over 200 small to medium-sized agri-tech companies and 64 business support organisations – including centres of excellence – which generate a turnover of more than £371m a year.
“Together with major employers including Arla Foods UK, Mole Valley Farmers, Thatchers Cider, ABP and Yeo Valley, agricultural companies in the South West contribute more than £3bn in gross value added to the UK economy.”
South West Agri-Tech will hold the conference at Exeter Racecourse on the 20th of April, featuring a range of outdoor robotic and drone demonstrations, as well as an indoor marketplace with dedicated networking time and high-profile speakers.
“The event will be free to attend and there are several sponsorship packages available,” said Mrs Rufus. “We want the whole farming, horticulture and agri-tech community to attend, and learn how such exciting developments have a genuine and practical role to play within agricultural businesses.”
“As the country’s most rural region, we are leading the way in agri-tech research and innovation, helping to support our rich farming and food sectors,” explained Karl Tucker, interim chair of the Great South West Partnership. “We are delighted to support this event, to showcase our region’s world-leading technologies and the pivotal role they play in the UK’s economy and food security.”
Mrs Rufus added that agri-tech is absolutely necessary to help the world sustainably meet the demand for good quality, safe food. “In the South West, we are perfectly placed to help deliver that, with a range of specialities spanning the entire food supply chain.
“We are fortunate to have unparalleled support for agri-tech businesses to develop and grow, with business growth hubs, incubators and accelerators, as well as bespoke business expertise, tax incentives and access to funding.
“We now have the largest and fastest growing network of high-growth SMEs in the UK agri-tech sector, and the time is right to really demonstrate what they can do for food producers in the region.”
Katherine Bennett CBE, chair of the Western Gateway Partnership, concluded: “Across the region, we have many innovative businesses, high-tech clusters and greater educational institutions working at the leading edge in their field. We are home to the Royal Agricultural University, whose plans for an Innovation Village promise to ensure the UK leads the way in developing methods to produce food sustainably in the future.
“It is great to see businesses coming together to demonstrate the leading work they are doing in this sector. I encourage everyone to come along to this event to see why our area is at the forefront of making a future with sustainable food a reality.”
For more information go to www.southwestagritech.org.uk