Agriculture is the fastest growing subject in the UK and universities across the country are forming beneficial syndicates to introduce new agriculture centric programs with a focus on increasing productivity and improving sustainability through agri-tech innovation.
According to the official government figures, there has been a rise in the number of student enrollments in agricultural and allied programs at universities. Evaluating the trend, top universities including the University of Cambridge have joined hands to develop an agri-tech cluster for fuelling agri-tech research.
Known as the Ceres Agri-tech Knowledge Exchange Partnership, the cluster consists of Universities of Cambridge, Hertfordshire, East Anglia, Reading and Lincoln along with NIAB, Rothamsted Research and NIAB. The educational and research institution have pooled resources to share expertise in the field of agri-tech commercialization.
Universities and research groups understand the growing need for improving agricultural segment through innovation. The growing interest of youth, along with increasing government and private investment have made the universities interested in the agri-tech segment. A fund of £4.78 million has been sanctioned for the partnership between universities through Research England’s Connecting Capability Fund.
Apart from the funding from Research England, CERES has also secured commitments from the industry and investors for funding the commercial opportunities that arise out of this partnership.
Ceres, in addition to promoting agricultural education, will identify, build, invest and operate commercially viable agri-tech development projects, suiting the needs of the industry. By sharing subject matter knowledge between universities, a new wave of innovation can be started via this initiative.
The technology that emerges out of the efforts can be licensed by the industry or by agri-tech companies for driving innovation from labs to real farms, thus improving productivity.
A number of startup companies, large corporations and government agencies have hailed the initiative as something that was impending. According to Iain Thomas from Cambridge University’s commercialization wing, early-stage technology transfer is the need of the hour for agri-tech industry.
With advancements in the field of AI, remote sensing, automation, nutrition, genomics, there are huge possibilities and opportunities for the agri-tech sector. Government and educational institutions in the UK are serious about driving innovation in the agricultural segment.
Through focused investments and research in the field, Ceres and the government is hoping for commercialization of promising technologies for the benefits of farming fraternity. Farmers are eager to adopt new technologies for improving productivity and yield and it is hoped that an influx of fresh blood and innovation will surely fuel an agricultural revolution.
Using advancements achieved via university research in the field, greater efficiencies will surely be achieved. Along with technical collaboration, technology transfer and commercialization of concepts, the new partnership will motivate young minds to seriously consider agri-tech as a lucrative career option that can take the country on the path of agricultural sustainability.