This week the government launched its UK Agricultural Technology Strategy, looking to make the UK a world leader in science and technology development for agriculture.
Breakthroughs in nutrition, informatics, satellite imaging, remote sensing, meteorology and precision farming mean the agriculture sector is one of the world’s fastest growing sectors.
Developed in partnership with industry, the Agricultural Technologies Strategy will ensure everyone from farmers and retailers, to cooks and shoppers share the benefits these exciting opportunities bring.
The strategy includes more than £30M of investment from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) to boost research and innovation campuses. Building on successful redevelopment projects already taking place at The Pirbright Institute and Babraham Research Campus, the new funds will be used to create unique agri-tech facilities at Easter Bush (Edinburgh), Aberystwyth, Rothamsted (Hertfordshire) and Norwich Research Park where world-leading agri-science can be accessed by private enterprise.
Each campus is centred on a critical mass of world-leading bioscience, strategically supported by BBSRC, providing a unique environment where growing bioscience-based companies can access specialist facilities and exchange ideas with leading researchers.
Universities and Science Minister David Willetts said: “Britain has the potential to be world-leading in agricultural science and technology, yet our productivity growth has dropped significantly in the past 30 years. These leading edge campuses will help reverse that trend by getting our researchers and businesses working together to commercialise their ideas. This is vital for our economy and future food security which is why we are launching the Agri-Technology Strategy.”
BBSRC Chief Executive, Professor Douglas Kell, said: "Research and innovation campuses are hot spots – for world-class research, training, facilities, infrastructure and innovation. BBSRC investment in the campuses, alongside our partners, provides the means for start-up companies, SMEs and industrial partners to access our science and equipment and to forge links with researchers and other companies. Through building unique environments at each campus we are supporting research institutes and private enterprise to grow companies and generate new jobs."
With the demand for food rising rapidly worldwide, the strategy aims to make the UK a world leader in addressing global food security issues.
Welcoming the Strategy, The Pirbright Institute’s Director, Professor John Fazakerley, said: “The Pirbright Institute plays an important role in global food security by preventing high impact infectious diseases of livestock. This new strategy supports our Institute vision by addressing food security issues exacerbated by a changing environment and an increasing human population.”
Further information on the new strategy can be found on the BIS website:https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/uk-agricultural-technologies-strategy