Momentum gathers for South West Agri-tech showcase

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Agri-tech enthusiasts in the South West can look ahead to a new free conference, with preparations well underway. The South West Agri-tech Showcase will feature innovations from Cornwall to Gloucestershire, with the agenda promising high-profile speakers, the latest exciting research and an indoor marketplace dedicated to networking.

Bringing together partners from across the agri-tech industry, the conference aims to demonstrate the vast array of agri-tech innovations available. “It will show the wealth of opportunity in the industry, from the academia to the research and development,” says Joanna Rufus, chair of South West Agri-tech.

Key space-tech technologies are infiltrating the agricultural industry, and event partner, Satellite Applications Catapult, ensures the next generation of agri-tech is provided with frequent and localised data, connectivity and accurate global positioning information. “This event will give us a great opportunity not only to meet the farming and agri-tech communities in the South West, but also to showcase how satellite technology can help the agricultural sector and introduce our Environmental Space Living Lab supported by the Heart of the South West LEP and developed with regional partners,” says Sonia Pietosi, Space Living Labs business development manager at Satellite Applications Catapult.

Accelerating innovation is a key aim of the conference, and Barclay Eagle Labs is well placed to help with this. “Our Agri-tech team offers support to start-ups and scale-ups throughout the food supply chain,” says James Trotman, innovation lead at Barclays Eagle Labs.

“Through putting on targeted programmes, events, content, connections and mentoring we are committed to supporting brilliant ideas and fast-tracking routes to market. We believe the South West Agri-tech showcase is an excellent opportunity to highlight the amazing ideas and support available in the region,” he adds.

“We hope the innovation on display will continue to inspire new ideas to support the food supply chain on the transition to a secure, sustainable and exciting future.”

Farming is integral to many South West communities, something particularly true in Wiltshire. “The agricultural sector is a vital part of the Wiltshire economy, but it is currently facing a period of uncertainty and economic challenges,” says Russell Frith at Wiltshire Council.

“We are sure the event will highlight some of the opportunities that are becoming available to farmers and landowners, ensuring that the sector continues to support both the local and national economy while contributing to the fight against climate change.”

Dan Norris, mayor of the West of England Combined Authority agrees: “I am proud to support the AgriTech Showcase Event highlighting opportunities for local people and businesses as they move to lower carbon.

“AgriTech is crucial for our region’s people, places and nature and will play a major part in addressing climate change, the loss of biodiversity and food supply issues, along with aiming to reach our ambitious target of net zero by 2030.”

The conference will be held at Exeter Racecourse, Devon – central for the whole region. “The South West is the most significant agricultural region in the country, we need to focus on the interests of our communities who own, farm and manage our land,” says Paddy Bradley, chief executive officer at Swindon and Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).

“The LEP work helps to ensure a vibrant and healthy future for our rural economies that support the beauty of our working land and environment, as well as protecting the populations of our villages and market towns. This event will draw attention to the exciting research, development and commercially available technology in the region and we are thrilled to be a sponsor.”

The event was partly inspired by the G7, held in Cornwall in 2021. “It’s no secret that Cornwall and Isles of Scilly have an incredibly rich history of agricultural excellence,” says Nicola Lloyd, director of Cornwall Trade and Investment.

“The region’s heritage, combined with transformational agri-tech innovation, provides the perfect environment for progressive farming. It’s wonderful to be showcasing examples of this alongside the wider South West regions.”

Editors’ notes

South West Agri-tech comprises six Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) – Cornwall and Isles of Scilly, Dorset, GFirst (Gloucestershire), Heart of the South West (Devon, Plymouth, Somerset and Torbay), Swindon and Wiltshire and West of England (Bath & North East Somerset, North Somerset, Bristol and South Gloucestershire); supported by a steering group of 45 members drawn from the LEPs and local partners, academia and government agencies.

The South West is England’s largest and most rural region with rich, diverse natural resources. With five of England’s 14 Food Enterprise Zones offering simplified planning and incentives, there is a huge range of site options. These range from collaboration space labs, rural and urban offices, science and business parks and employment land. Complementary sector strengths include aerospace, automotive, marine, nuclear, space, ITech and pharmaceuticals.