South West showcase to focus on commercialisation of agritech to deliver food security

agritech south west exeter agritech showcase

Food security is cited as one of the biggest challenges facing the UK, with agri-tech recognised as a major component in the development of a secure and sustainable food supply chain.

Responding to this critical need, this year’s AgriTech Showcase, held at Westpoint Arena in Exeter on 21 March, will focus on the commercialisation and adoption of new, innovative and impactful agri-tech. “With a growing population, changing climate patterns, and the need for more sustainable practices, food security is one of the biggest challenges facing the UK,” says keynote speaker Karl Tucker, chair of the Great South West Partnership.

“Delivering food security must go hand-in-hand with sustainability, climate resilience, and healthy biodiversity. Technology will be vital to tackling these global challenges; not only revolutionising farming methods, but also allowing us to measure our impact through cutting-edge tools like soil carbon testing and biodiversity analysis.

“The Great South West Partnership – comprising business, councils, universities and Local Enterprise Partnerships – is uniquely positioned with its farm-to-fork network to help deliver the technologies needed to build a secure, domestic supply of food that supports our growing population.”

Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, and Somerset are home to a third of the country’s farms; supplying meat, dairy, fish and poultry products. And agri-tech can help those farms to be even more efficient while meeting the nation’s needs.

“I look forward to exploring these critical discussions at the showcase in March,” adds Mr Tucker. “Now is the time to seize our region’s opportunities and deliver, at scale, the technologies and food that will be vital to the UK’s future, as the country’s food and farming powerhouse.”

The showcase will also offer a platform for Phil Bicknell, acting director at the Centre for Innovation Excellence in Livestock, to discuss the recently announced merger between CIEL, the Agri-EPI Centre and the Crop Health and Protection (CHAP), coming into effect on 1 April.  “We have had three agri-tech centres trying to accelerate innovation in different sectors, so it made sense to move forward together,” he says. “It’s an exciting time. What we’re launching is the largest agri-tech organisation that has ever existed in the UK. We can bridge the gap that exists between researchers and farmers. We want to broaden horizons and show people that the potential for agri-tech is more than just drones and robots, for example things like developments in livestock genetics.”

“Innovation is also about finding different ways of working and changing mindsets. We want to investigate how agri-tech can prepare us for the future and address the big challenges we are facing.”

As well as thought-provoking discussions, the showcase – sponsored by Satellite Applications Catapult and Environmental Space Living Labs – will also demonstrate what is trendsetting in the agricultural technology world and assist farmers in seeing its commercial value. Attendees can also look forward to learning about sustainable farming practices, finance, and productivity. The day will explore different sectors of the industry including livestock, arable and dairy. And the presentations will involve farmers providing real-life inspiration of agri-tech in commercial use.

Alongside this, there will be ample opportunity to network in the Market Place. “The Market Place is very popular networking arena for both exhibitors and delegates,” explains Joanna Rufus, chair of South West AgriTech. “We give the Market Place dedicated time within the day’s agenda to facilitate networking opportunities. We have such great agri-tech strength in the region.”