Calum Murray
Calum Murray, Lead Technologist – Sustainable Agriculture and Food, Innovate UK (formerly the Technology Strategy Board)Calum Murray
“CropTec presents us with an ideal opportunity to let farmers know about the work undertaken by the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK, in the AgriFood sector and highlight some of the projects we have funded as well as ask them about their priorities for future innovations.
The Technology Strategy Board was set up in 2007, with theSustainable Agriculture and Food Innovation Platform was established in 2010 with an initial budget of £90m. Since August of this year we have been known as Innovate UK to better reflect our role in supporting business-led innovation. With industry support, we have been able to fund in excess of 130 agricultural and food projects with further significant investments made through the £70m AgriTech Catalyst, part of the UK Government’s AgriTech Strategy.
As well as speaking in the Managing with Precision Seminar at CropTec, we will also be supporting the R&D Innovation Hub that will demonstrate some of the projects that we have helped fund. There will also be the opportunity at the hub for visitors to give their feedback on the projects and suggest what might be needed in future projects. Since the beginning, our aim has been to support the development of innovative, business led solutions that will improve production on the ground; feedback from farmers is essential in this process.
To date, there have been six main food and farming areas that Innovate UK have supported. These include:  – new methods of crop protection; sustainable protein production (reducing the UK’s reliance on imported protein crops); food processing; trait measurement technologies, agricultural engineering solutions and tackling animal and crop diseases. Projects are identified through a competitive application process. They must be collaborative and have to be both led and match funded by industry. We often have three or four times as many applications for funding than we can support, which clearly indicates the depth of innovation potential there is in UK agriculture. The first projects we have supported will be coming to fruition very soon, with some of the exhibitors at CropTec referring to the projects they have been involved in.
The need for sustainable intensification of agriculture is now an established concept with farmers challenged with feeding a growing UK and world population against a background of climate change and pressure on resources. If they are to meet that challenge on both a national and a global basis, they will need more innovative technical and system based solutions. At CropTec, we will demonstrate how Innovate UK is supporting agricultural technology and how farmers can help shape that technology.”