Defra announces first agri-tech catalyst recipients

DEFRA has announced the first recipients of its £70 million agri-tech catalyst.

The funding, which was announced last year as part of Government’s agri-tech strategy, will see an initial 11 projects receive £2.8m Government funding with an additional £1.4m co-investment from Government.

The projects span livestock, arable and aquaculture enterprises and the funding is designed to support businesses and universities to ‘bridge the difficult gap between laboratory research and the marketplace’.

Projects receive funding

Seven arable projects will see funding:

  • The James Hutton Institute: Leading a consortium to develop a set of tools to make it easier, cheaper and faster to incorporate useful properties from related wild plants into mainstream varieties.
  • Saturn Bioponics: Working with the University of Manchester to prototype nutrient composition sensing technology for hydroponic farming.
  • University of York: Working with Syngenta to investigate a new paradigm in pesticide discovery and optimisation.
  • ADAS UK: Working with Sainsbury’s and the University of Manchester to develop a tractor-mounted sensor to reduce the cost and carbon footprint of wheat production.
  • The Royal Holloway: Working with Germains to improve seed priming – a technique used to improve the quality of vegetable seeds.
  • GrowUp Urban Farms: Leading a consortium to build the UK’s first aquaponic urban farm to quantify the economic and environmental potential of sustainable urban farming.
  • Exosect: Working with EsEye to examine harnessing natural fungi to control insect and mite pests in grain storage.

Two livestock farms will see funding:

  • University of Nottingham: Working with Quality Milk Management to improve the treatment and management of mastitis in dairy cattle.
  • Cambivac Limited: Working with Moredun Scientific to develop technology to produce vaccines that more effectively control disease (PRRS) in swine.

Two aquaculture projects will see funding:

  • The National Lobster Hatchery: Leading a consortium to develop novel cultivation techniques to expand the aquaculture industry to include the European Lobster.
  • The Scottish Association for Marine Sciences: Leading a consortium to develop technology to farm two species of seaweed.

Agriculture and science Minister Lord De Mauley highlighted the importance of farming to the agri-food sector.

He said: “Farmers are the backbone of the £97 billion agri-food sector.

“The 11 projects announced today will be invaluable in helping them take advantage of the latest science and innovation, supporting our world-class agricultural technology sector.”

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