07 Jan 2019

Growth potential in agri-tech market

Farmers could benefit from a new-found interest in agri-tech, as businesses previously not connected to the sector, show a keen interest.

In the face of funding cuts from Europe, private companies with an interest in data, advanced manufacturing or hardware are looking at farming as a lucrative new market.

Small- to medium-sized businesses and innovative start-ups are particularly keen to work with farmers to develop new products which will help tackle real-world challenges.

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Dr Helen Ferrier, chief science adviser at the NFU, suggested the Government’s £160 million Agri-Tech Strategy, launched in 2013, has been key in generating interest in these potential opportunities.

“The strategy focused minds and gave the sector more status. The fact government thinks the agri-tech sector is going places is partly what has led to all these companies being interested in farming,” she said.

This new commercial attention will complement the range of agricultural research organisations, institutions and networks already in place.

Data platform Agrimetrics, one of the UK’s four Agri-Tech Centres, is already working with two of the world’s biggest companies – Microsoft and Airbus – to provide insights, tools and services to agricultural businesses.

Agrimetrics chief executive David Flanders said, “Money is coming into the agri-tech sector from outside because agriculture is a sector with a huge amount of data which has massive potential.

“The interest being taken by research organisations in understanding farming processes and engaging with end users has really grown.

“We are in a completely different place from when I first started working in this area in terms of the understanding of getting an impact outside of the science community.”

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