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UK invests £4 million in agricultural innovation

Businesses including an urban farm and spin-outs from universities across the UK have received a share of £4 million of funding from government and industry to develop their innovative business ideas.

The government funding comes from the £70 million Agri-Tech Catalyst announced as part of the UK Industrial Strategy for Agricultural Technologies. It is designed to support businesses and universities to bridge the difficult gap between lab research and the marketplace.

Universities and Science Minister David Willetts said: "The pioneering projects are the businesses of the future and this funding will make a real difference in bringing innovative ideas from the lab to the marketplace. This work is critical in supporting the UK's Agri-tech Strategy and our commitment to establish the UK as a world leader in agriculture technology, innovation and sustainability".

"Farmers are the backbone of the £97 billion agri-food sector. The 11 projects announced will be invaluable in helping them take advantage of the latest science and innovation, supporting our world-class agricultural technology sector," added Agriculture and Science Minister Lord De Mauley.

Some of the projects will look into new farming techniques – such as cultivation of seaweed, where booming consumer demand for the food far outstrips wild supply. Others focus on solving problems affecting farmers; including tackling a cattle disease that currently costs the dairy industry over £200 million a year.

Judith Batchelar, Leadership Council Industry co-Chair said: "This is a very exciting time for agriculture in the UK. The Agri-Tech Catalyst is bridging the well known funding gap between the lab and the market place. I encourage all those in industry, with their expertise in the problems agriculture is facing, to work with our world-class universities and jointly apply for the second round of Catalyst funding."

The current 11 projects will receive £2.8 million funding from government with £1.4 million co-investment from industry. They span three key areas of the agriculture sector – crops, livestock, and aquaculture.

The Agri-Tech Catalyst, run by the Technology Strategy Board and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, forms part of the UK's Industrial Strategy for Agriculture – a long term plan and £160 million government investment which sets out how the government, researchers and industry will build on the strengths of the UK agricultural technologies sector.

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  • Lawal Umar

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