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Lobsters, scallops and whisky among £17.8M Agri-Tech projects

Pioneering projects to improve agriculture and food production at home and overseas, have been funded to the tune of £17.8M, under the latest round of the Government’s Agri-Tech Catalyst.

Projects include one assessing the potential to commercialise the farming of lobsters, a proposal to cultivate scallops on ropes and a way of continuing to make whisky with UK wheat, by using a novel variety.

The technologies are among 21 successful bids that have won a competition run by the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK, to target commercially promising new technologies to provide an economic boost to the UK agriculture sector.

Speaking at the opening of Agrimetrics, the UK's first Big Data Centre of Excellence for the whole food system, at Rothamsted, Hertfordshire, Life Sciences Minister George Freeman MP said: “By harnessing science to reduce water and pesticide usage, and to pioneer greener modern farming, the UK is leading the way in boosting agricultural productivity. Investing in pioneering agri-tech projects like these is win win for the UK as these technologies will improve food production and create businesses and jobs up and down the country.”

Professor Jackie Hunter, BBSRC Chief Executive, said: “Investing in advances in agriculture is vital, not only for our future food supply but also to help build the UK bioeconomy. These new research projects highlight how UK bioscience is at the forefront of innovative approaches for modern farming.”

Ian Meikle, Head of Agriculture and Food, at Innovate UK, said: “By supporting these project partnerships – many of which include small businesses – Innovate UK is backing British solutions for agricultural challenges. These schemes are helping to create new jobs and will open up new markets and drive productivity.”

The funding was awarded through the Agri-Tech Catalyst which was set up by the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills, Innovate UK, Department for International Development and BBSRC with a £70M investment to help make the UK a world leader in agricultural technology, innovation and sustainability.


Funded Projects

Agri-Tech Catalyst Round 4 – Late Stage

  • VerticalVale: Viability of the Saturn Grower in commercial farming
    Partners: Saturn Bioponics, ValeFresco
  • Improving hydroponic production using new online nitrate sensor
    Partners: Sharp Laboratories Ltd; Lincolnshire Herbs Ltd; APS Salads Ltd; May Barn Horticultural Consultancy Ltd
  • Real-time Information Systems for Precision Pig Production
    Partners: Farm Energy & Control Services Ltd; ARM Buildings Ltd; Garth Pig Practice Ltd; DC & RJ Allen & Partners; J M Sankey Fmrs; DA & EM Skinner; Stockcroft Ltd; Yorkwold Pigpro Ltd


Agri-Tech Catalyst Round 4 – Industrial Research

  • Cocoa Farm of the Future
    Partners: Mondelez UK R&D Limited; Tree Global Ghana Ltd; Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana
  • Third Generation Polyethylene Greenhouse Cladding Materials
    Partners: British Polythene Ltd; Haygrove Tunnels Ltd; Berry Gardens Ltd; Finlays Horticulture (Kenya) Ltd; A. Schulman Inc Ltd.; The University of Reading; The University of Lincoln; East Malling Research
  • MUST: Miscanthus Upscaling Technology
    Partners: Terravesta Assured Energy Crops, Bell Brothers Nurseries, Edwards Farm Machinery, Aberystwyth University, Nutriss, CERES
  • BirdEase: An integrated diagnostic system for bacterial detection in poultry farms
    Partners: Greengage Lighting Ltd; University of Cambridge; Cramasie Ltd; 2 Sisters Food Group; Campden BRI; CASI Everysite (TLR Ltd)
  • Aquaculture of the Great Scallop: Field tests for rope-growing techniques
    Partners: Scalloptech Limited; Portland Oystermen Limited
  • Novel low viscosity wheats for distilling
    Partners: The Scotch Whisky Research Institute, Rothamsted Research, Limagrain UK
  • Lobster Grower 2 – Assessing the technical, economic and environmental potential for a novel candidate aquaculture species
    Partners: The National Lobster hatchery; University of Exeter; Westcountry Mussels; CEFAS; Falmouth University
  • Innovative plant breeding & phenotyping technologies to reduce nutrient requirement of forages and improve livestock production efficiency
    Partners: Germinal Holdings; Aberystwyth University
  • Improving female fertility and calf survival in the UK beef industry
    Partners: British Limousin Cattle Society, SRUC
  • Benchmark Scenario Planning in Primary Production: Creating Sustainable Change
    Partners: Syngenta Limited; AGCO Limited; AGCO Zambia Limited; University of Southampton; University of Aberystwyth
  • Building Genomic Breeding Pyramids For Indian Cattle
    Partners: Tropical Animal Genetics Private Limited (TAG); University of Edinburgh



Agri-Tech Catalyst Round 4 – Early Stage

  • Feasibility study to develop technology for predicting wheat yield
    Partners: Selex ES; SOYL
  • Development and validation of a system for automatic detection of lameness in sheep
    Partners: University of Nottingham; Dunbia (Wales); Farm Wizard
  • Vaccine Diluent Improvement for ECF-ITM
    Partners: GALVmed, CTTBD, Arecor Ltd
  • Aphid resistant wheat for the smallholder farmer in Africa
    Partners: Rothamsted Resarch; Seed-Co Ltd
  • Application of General Repellents against Agricultural Pests
    Partners: Russell IPM Ltd; Russell IPM Bangladesh Ltd; Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Agricultural Uni; East Malling Research; Natural Resources Institute, University of Greenwich
  • Pan-specific vaccine to control Streptococcus agalactiae disease in tilapia aquaculture
    Partners: Moredun Research Institute, Benchmark Animal Health Ltd.


Story source: Innovate UK news release via BBRSC, 27 Oct 2015

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