Agri-Tech collaboration promises innovation boost to sector

Two AgriTech innovation centres are joining forces to offer their members an enhanced range of services to drive growth in the agriculture sector. Farm491 is an AgriTech business incubator based at the Royal Agricultural University (RAU) in Cirencester and they are partnering with Rothamsted Enterprises’, based 100 miles down the road in Harpenden, who specialise in AgriTech innovation and research.

The mutually beneficial arrangement promises to accelerate potential agri innovations by empowering their entrepreneurial affiliates with cutting edge resources and information. With a projected global population of ten billion people predicted by 2050, the advancements in AgriTech are seen to be key to unlocking food supply chain solutions for a growing population, and maintaining a healthy planet.

Farm491 will be dedicating mentoring time and one-to-one support around scalable agri-food business issues from their Entrepreneur in Residence, Luke Halsey and Outreach Manager, Sarah Carr. They will also give Rothamsted members access to key stakeholder networks, such as farmers, industry experts and investors, plus access to their insightful workshops.

In return, Farm491 members can utilise services at Rothamsted Enterprises’ in Harpenden, which includes state-of-the-art facilities, world-leading scientists, a vibrant calendar of events and seminars, and use of their 800 acres of experimental farmland, glasshouses and controlled growth environments, microscopy and analytical chemistry team, amongst other services.

Sarah Carr, Outreach Manager at Farm491, comments, "After meeting some of the fantastic innovative tenants that are part of the Rothamsted Enterprise ecosystem, it made complete sense to partner and create a more cohesive approach to tackling the many barriers that agri-entrepreneurs face when trying to scale in the agri-food sector. Rothamsted is a place of exciting scientific innovation and we are excited to combine our knowledge of scaling AgriTech businesses to support tenants on the path to commercial viability.

The new partnership aims to enable AgriTech and AgriFood start-up businesses from both institutes to prosper, with a wider range of resources available to them.

Asmaa Shariff, Head of Client Services and Innovation Programmes at Rothamsted Enterprises, said, “We’re really excited to have joined forces with Farm491 to offer even more support to our tenants. Luke and Sarah’s extensive experience in AgriTech start-ups and scale-ups, as well as their contacts around the UK and internationally, will open up many more opportunities to our community of AgriTech SMEs. We’re also looking forward to welcoming their members to Harpenden to meet our scientists and use our facilities.”