Final call to register for South West AgriTech Showcase

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Farmers, agri-businesses, and industry stakeholders will be in for a comprehensive day of innovation, discussion, and partnership at the free-to-attend South West AgriTech Showcase on 20 April 2023, held at Exeter Racecourse in Devon.

And with the ticket deadline looming on 17 April 2023, Joanna Rufus, chair at South West AgriTech, is eager to ensure that farmers have every opportunity to be in the room and have their voices heard.

“Bringing together farmers, landowners, agri-businesses and industry stakeholders will create a powerful room – we especially need farmers to communicate what is happening at the coalface. Agri-tech is a critical component in helping farmers achieve priorities like net zero, as well as developing a more robust food supply chain.

“But if farmers aren’t in the room, innovation risks losing traction.”

The South West Agri-tech Showcase will feature innovations from Cornwall to Gloucestershire, with the agenda promising high-profile speakers, the latest exciting research, demonstrations, and an indoor marketplace dedicated to networking.

Mel Squires, South West director at the NFU, will be a keynote speaker at the event, reflecting on how critical agri-tech and collaboration is to farming and food supply chains. “Given the significance of farming to this region, both economically and environmentally, it is crucial that we continue to collaborate,” she says.

“This event will shine a bright light on all the fantastic work taking place in this part of the world, and beyond. It will inform, connect, inspire and, I hope, encourage people to learn more and see how agri-tech can help their businesses, which will invite further interest and investment.”

Attendees will hear from the likes of Innovate UK, Barclays Eagle labs, Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), Devon County Council and the Devon Agri-tech Alliance about factors like funding, innovation/incubation space, as well as business mentorship – recognising farm businesses as innovation generators.

Supporting this will be Hartpury University (HAU) and the Royal Agricultural University (RAU), addressing the perception of farming, food supply and agri-tech’s role. The Soil Association will demonstrate farmer-led research and solutions, with Hutchinsons addressing how soil knowledge is best for business and the environment.

The Small Robot Company and digital solutions company MyOxygen will showcase how technology and robotics are making all the difference in the field.

Accelerating innovation is a key aim of the conference, and is critical at all stages of the food supply chain, says James Trotman, innovation lead at Barclays Eagle Labs.

Attendees will also be treated to live outdoor demonstrations while they enjoy a networking lunch. “It’s a great opportunity for people to see some of the technology that’s commercially available in the region, as well as the research and development that’s being undertaken,” says Councillor Rufus Gilbert, Devon County Council cabinet member for economic recovery and skills.

David Owen, director of Economy and Environment at Gloucestershire County Council, and chief executive at GFirst Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), echoes that sentiment. “These events provide an invaluable opportunity for people to work together to create a future that benefits everyone.”

Partly inspired by the G7, held in Cornwall in 2021, getting behind the event is a matter of urgency, with recent events highlighting the vulnerability of the UK’s food supply chain, and how important the sector is to the country’s food and climate ambitions.

“Agri-tech and innovation are vital components in helping farmers meet these objectives, as well as in building resilient and profitable businesses,” says Russell Frith, inward investment lead at flagship event sponsor, Wiltshire Council.

“We’re confident that this conference will give attendees the information, tools, and networks they need to progress to net zero, build sustainable businesses, and enhance food security.”