The Government has launched a strategy to advance Britain’s agricultural technologies, including £90 million of funding to develop Centres for Agricultural Innovation.
The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) says Agricultural Technologies Strategy is the first time the government, science base and food and farming industry have joined forces to identify the opportunities and strengths of the UK agricultural technologies, or agri-tech, sector.
It includes a £70 million Agri-Tech Catalyst designed to improve the translation of research into market-ready products and services.
The agriculture strategy is the outcome of consultation and partnership with the agri-tech communities to agree actions to deliver the plan.
The plan will be overseen by the Agri-Tech Leadership Council, a body formed by BIS that includes industry leaders and expert academics.
Funding of the different parts of the strategy adds up to more than £170 million.
The strategy is committed to:
• improve the translation of research into practice through a £70 million government investment in an Agri-Tech Catalyst which will provide a single fund for projects, all the way from the laboratory to market; this will include £10 million to deliver international development objectives.
• increase support to develop, adopt and exploit new technologies and processes through £90 million of government funding for Centres for Agricultural Innovation.
• help the UK exploit the potential of big data and informatics and become a global centre of excellence by establishing a Centre for Agricultural Informatics and Metrics of Sustainability.
• provide stronger leadership for the sector; the Agri-tech Leadership Council gives industry a stronger and more cohesive voice with government and the science base.
• build a stronger skills base through industry-led actions to attract and retain a workforce that is expert in developing and applying technologies from the laboratory to the farm.
• increase alignment of industry research funding with public sector spend by increasing understanding of what is being spent and where.
• increase UK export and inward investment performance through targeted sector support
BIS says the government spent £450 million on research and development in agriculture and food from 2011 to 2012, including substantial capital expenditure supporting research institutes and campuses.
The Agricultural Technologies Strategy is the latest vertical sector strategy that forms part of the coalition government’s industrial strategy, launched by the Business Secretary Vince Cable in September 2012.
So far strategies have been launched in the automotive, aerospace, oil & gas, and digital technology sectors. Offshore wind and nuclear strategies are set to come.