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Cambridgeshire companies to benefit from £1.84m agri-tech innovation fund


Cambridgeshire companies to benefit from £1.84m agri-tech innovation fund

Three Cambridgeshire companies are among 12 regionally which have won £1.84 million of funding from the Innovate UK Launchpad for Agritech and Agrifood in Eastern England.

This Innovate UK Launchpad provides innovation support and funding tailored to the wider region’s strengths from the forefront of crop and plant research, to harvesting, processing and packaging the food on our plates.

Agri-tech forms a key part of the region’s industrial strategy, called the Economic Growth Strategy and Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority is supporting the growth of the sector including through funding and support. With The Fens home to 50 per cent of the country’s very best ‘Grade I’ agricultural land, the region is ideally placed to be at the forefront of agri-tech innovation.

The Innovate UK Launchpads support clusters of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) and helps the most innovative businesses to progress their projects towards commercialisation, contributing to local economic growth. The Eastern Agritech and Agrifood Launchpad has been developed through a partnership between the national innovation agency, Innovate UK, with Greater Lincolnshire LEP, New Anglia LEP and the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority.

This first competitive round of investment attracted a large response from local businesses and innovators. Their projects will improve the yield and nutritional value of crops, automate harvesting, and produce food and drinks with enhanced health benefits.

Al Kingsley, chair of the Combined Authority Business Board, said: “This funding is another welcome boost in support of the ambition for our region to become a global centre for agri-tech innovation. We already are a base for cutting edge research, the commercialisation of ideas and successful businesses, and with the right funding, collaboration and support, agri-tech in this region can be a major driver of sustainable economic growth, inward investment and skilled jobs.

“With climate change, the shift to net zero, food security and sustainability more relevant and important than ever, a thriving agri-tech sector is of national importance.”

Dean Cook, Director of Place and Levelling Up at Innovate UK said: “At Innovate UK, we are committed to supporting regional innovation capabilities and nurturing technology clusters across the UK.

Today, we are proud to announce details on the businesses and innovations to receive the initial investments through our Innovate UK Launchpad programme.

This initiative underscores our commitment to fostering innovation, driving economic growth and the transformative potential of collaboration within the robust technology clusters across the UK.

We were pleased to see successful applications to the Eastern Agritech and Agrifood Launchpad from each of the four counties within the cluster and projects covering the full breath of the sector.

Two of the applicants offered funding had previously had the support of Innovate UK’s Young Innovators programme. The Launchpad has enabled them to secure more substantial funding to advance their ideas further towards commercialisation.”

A spokesperson for the partnership, which includes the Greater Lincolnshire LEP, the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority and Norfolk and Suffolk County Councils, said: “We’re absolutely delighted that 12 projects have been successful across all four areas in the Eastern England region.”

“The successful projects cover a wide range of innovative projects, from robotic daffodil picking and automated blueberry harvesting to novel biological defences against aphids and new types of plant-based food packaging.

“We hope to encourage even more fantastic applications later in the year to showcase the Eastern England region’s brilliant agri-tech and food-tech innovation cluster.”

The Launchpad partnership will announce the next round of funding in late Spring.