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10 Dec 2023

Innovate UK tackle innovation and Artificial Intelligence at CropTec

To keep profitably and sustainably producing food in the face of significant challenges, UK farmers need support to boost their productivity, according to Innovate UK ahead of CropTec on 29 and 30 November. Could adopting and integrating Artificial Intelligence (AI) powered tools and capabilities to transform existing processes be the answer?

At CropTec, Innovate UK will host a ‘Transforming Food Production’ (TFP) hub to showcase the successes of its £90m programme of the same name, which has been running for the last five years.

Over the two days, Innovate UK will be promoting what has come out of the TFP programme and will look ahead at what is available for innovation funding in the future through Defra’s Farming Innovation Programme (FIP), which is being delivered by Innovate UK, and the recently launched BridgeAI programme.

Dr Tom Jenkins, Deputy Challenge Director for the TFP programme, said: “We’ll be covering two exciting areas at CropTec. Innovate UK works closely with Defra and delivers their Farming Innovation Programme, and the opportunities available will form one area of focus. Secondly, a new programme was launched this year called BridgeAI. We will be exploring how artificial intelligence is being used within the agricultural industry and raising awareness of the opportunities for the sector through the BridgeAI programme.”

AI holds enormous potential for businesses, enhancing productivity and competitiveness. The technology is there, but currently the on-farm cost is impractically high.

There are so many variables involved in agriculture, whether that’s input costs, weather or markets and this underscores the importance of big data. Practical opportunities for use of AI on-farm include precision pest control, live on-farm monitoring, automated form filling and yield prediction.

To harness AI’s potential for agriculture, innovators must master the data challenge. Identifying key data, optimising collection methods, and leveraging it can significantly boost productivity. Siloed data limits AI’s potential in agriculture, while collaborative data sharing is essential for unlocking the full benefits of AI innovation in farming.

“Adopting AI technology can be challenging and that’s where BridgeAI comes in,” says Dr Jenkins. “Innovate UK’s BridgeAI programme will support businesses in high-growth-potential sectors such as agriculture, construction, creative and transport industries, to harness the power of AI and unlock their full potential.

“The programme offers funding and support to help innovators assess and implement trusted AI solutions, connect with AI experts, and elevate their AI leadership skills.”

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