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AgTech FoodTech Incubation

Tesco Agri T-Jam 2020 open for entries for agri-tech start-ups

The Tesco Agri T-Jam has partnered with World Agri-Tech to offer seed and early-stage agri-tech innovators from around the world, the opportunity to work with the UK’s leading food retailer and its supply chain partners. Entries are invited until JULY 28 from agri-tech start-ups with innovative breakthrough technologies and solutions to improve supply chain efficiency and sustainability.

Following an in-depth selection process by the Agri T-Jam judging committee, ten finalists will be revealed during the World Agri-Tech Innovation Summit on September 15. At least one start-up will be selected for fast-track introductions and mentoring by the Tesco agriculture team and its supplier network.

“At Tesco, our ambition is to find new products, ideas and technologies that will help us serve our customers, colleagues and communities even better in the future. We want to work with people who have new ideas to help enhance what we do, or how we do things.”

Natalie Smith, Head of Agriculture at Tesco

Tesco is looking for technologies in the following priority areas:

  1. Predictive Farming
  2. Crop Specific Solutions, Shelf Life & Storage
  3. Improving Soil Health & Resilience
  4. Water Quality Analysis & Irrigation
  5. Robotics, Automation & Sensor Technology
  6. Protecting & Supporting Biodiversity
  7. Livestock: Animal Health & Welfare
  8. Supply Chain Efficiency & Waste Reduction
  9. Indoor & Vertical Farming
  10. Operating Remotely

The 2020 Tesco Agri T-Jam Final will be held as a virtual event on Monday October 19 with the judging commitee, supply chain partners and Tesco colleagues. Each finalist will then present again in a showcase webinar promoted to the World Agri-Tech global network, before the winner is revealed.

Roboscientific, a Cambridge-based start-up which uses sensors, ‘Electronic nose’ to detect contamination in agricultural produce was the winner of Tesco TJam Innovation Award for Agriculture 2019. It uses an array of Volatile Organic Compounds that individually respond to the vapours producing a unique response pattern for each separate type of compound or mix of compounds. The technology was at the point of commercialisation for its automatic early disease detection system for growing broiler poultry and early alerts of spoilage in stored potato and onion crops.

The 2018 winner was ImpactVision, a machine learning company, applying hyper-spectral imaging technology to food supply chains to deliver consistent food quality, generate premium products and reduce supply chain waste. The information generated from its technology allows stakeholders across food supply chains to assess product quality in real-time, making decisions that help to achieve superior product consistency, deliver premium quality and prevent supply chain waste

Categories
AgTech Biotech

Pluton Biosciences selected for Global Illumina Accelerator

Pluton Biosciences is a microbial testing and discovery research company dedicated to finding unique microbes to replace synthetic chemical applications in agriculture and pest control with eco-friendly natural products. Pluton’s industry disrupting process patches critical “cracks” in the Research and Development pipeline by speeding the introduction of novel and beneficial bioproducts to market. Pluton Biosciences, was chosen for Illumina Accelerator, which partners with global entrepreneurs to build breakthrough genomics startups.

With extensive mentorship, financial support, and access to sequencing systems, reagents, and lab space, Illumina is building a dynamic ecosystem to help genomics startups, including therapeutics, diagnostics, agriculture, synthetic biology, forensics, and direct-to-consumer applications, launch in the San Francisco Bay Area and in Cambridge, UK.

“Pluton is thrilled to be the first St. Louis-based biotech company to be chosen by Illumina Accelerator. The opportunity to build our company in San Francisco, a global center of the life sciences industry, is terrific, and to have an investment from Illumina, the world’s largest sequencing company, is even better.”

Charlie Walch, Pluton CEO

Pluton uses Micromining®, its high-throughput microbial discovery platform, to identify and isolate novel bacteria, fungi, and viruses within months and not years, which dramatically improves R&D throughput for agtech companies and producers of pesticides.

“We are proud to partner with Pluton in the 11th funding cycle of Illumina Accelerator San Francisco Bay Area. Pluton’s experienced team and unique approach to harness the power of next generation DNA sequencing will uncover new microbial insights for environmental and plant health.”

Amanda Cashin, Co-founder and Global Head of Illumina Accelerator

Illumina Accelerator is accepting applications for the next global funding cycle, which are due by August 1, 2020. To learn more and apply, please visit Illumina website.

Categories
AgTech Climate Change

Combating climate change with AgTech and FoodTech

SHAKE Climate Change is a consortium-based programme led by Rothamsted Research. SHAKE helps entrepreneurs and start-ups who are combating climate change with science or tech-based ideas in the areas of agriculture and food production

The £3.5m SHAKE Climate Change Programme has announced its first three ventures to invest in. Energy from manure, a yield boosting nanotech and tools for smarter pest management are the ideas behind three early stage companies selected by the unique fund.

“There has been a lot of publicity recently around the environmental impact especially of eating meat and intensive agricultural crop production – but the contribution of agri-food to our climate footprint is so much more complex and wider than that. It has been really exciting to see that this entrepreneurship support programme has attracted ventures with innovations offering solutions across that wide spectrum.”

Prof. Angela Karp, Interim Director and CEO, Rothamsted Research, World’s Oldest Agricultural Research Institute

They were up against tough competition, but all three of them have displayed great ingenuity in their initial ideas to help reduce the climate impact of food and farming, and they have taken really well to the training and mentorship we have provided so far. The three successful companies, who each receive £140k plus two years of dedicated mentoring and support, are:

  1. EcoNomad Solutions: Offer small-scale solutions for agricultural waste reduction and sustainable resource management. Their biogas and nutrient recovery system is suitable for even the smallest of operations. Other ground-breaking and patented technology by EcoNomad for low-cost solar water pumping and pasteurisation is based solely on passive thermal principles, operating without electricity, solar panels or moving parts of any kind.
  2. Glaia Ltd: Glaia has developed a new class of plant additive called ‘sugar dots’ that can increase photosynthetic efficiency naturally, increasing yields by up to 20 per cent. Sugar-dots are water soluble and can be applied as a foliar spray or within an irrigation system and have been tested on a variety of crops from soft fruit through to wheat and sorghum.
  3. PheroSyn Ltd: Develop pheromones that can be deployed to protect crops and reduce the use of pesticides. Their first products are designed to lure midges that attack wheat, peas and pears away from these crops.

Over the nine-year programme, 15 successful ventures will receive up to a total amount of £140,000 each, plus two years of high-quality training and mentoring from leading experts in business and science, to help further develop their ventures. The programme is funded by the Societe Generale UK Foundation, the independent corporate foundation of Societe Generale Group in the UK.

Read more at Rothamsted Research

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Agriculture Policy

Bounce back plan for food and agriculture industry launched in UK

The measures introduced today will support producers, manufacturers and agri-tech companies across the food supply chain, from farm to fork. The new strategic interventions jointly announced by the Department for International Trade (DIT) and Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) will offer immediate support to help businesses in the industry grow their trade activity overseas.

The agriculture, food and drink industry is the UK’s largest manufacturing industry and plays a vital role in the UK’s food supply chain, which contributed £121 billion to the UK economy in 2018 – supporting around 4 million jobs. In 2019, UK food, feed and drink exports were worth £23.7bn – up 4.9% from 2018.

The full range of measures announced today include:

  1. Launch of a GREAT DIT Food & Drink Exporting Masterclass, an extensive and bespoke programme of webinars to be produced in conjunction with trade associations, UK regions, including Devolved Administrations, and DIT’s international network, all supported by DIT’s Export Specialists.
  2. Launch of Food & Drink SME E-commerce Accelerator Pilot to leverage DIT’s E-exporting Programme to increase the level of international e-commerce support for food and drink SMEs, including agri-tech. This will include the offer of one-to-one e-commerce export clinics with the programme’s e-commerce specialists and regional advisers, a new series of industry webinars and podcasts focussed on highlighting the opportunities available to export through e-marketplaces internationally, as well as virtual workshops on internationalising their websites for those companies selling direct to consumers in various markets around the world.
  3. Promote 50 Food and Drink Export Champions to stimulate aspiring exporters, while utilising International Trade Advisor specialist networks focused on agri-food.
  4. Announce the first Defra Agri-food Counsellor serving the UAE and wider Gulf Region, with the role focussing on supporting our food and drink sector and representing the interests of UK businesses already exporting to the area, as well as those looking to export for the first time. The new Defra-funded Regional Agri-Food Counsellor will be based in Dubai and will work alongside DIT’s existing sector leads in the UAE, providing specialist knowledge and engagement in Government to Government discussions on behalf of UK interests and sectors. She will also support food and drink promotion activity at the UK pavilion at World Expo in 2021, identifying opportunities for new markets and further developing existing export relationships.
  5. Launch of a programme of physical and virtual events, using innovative, interactive software to connect buyers, promote the UK and reach international markets. This will include: an overseas virtual buyer trial working directly with chosen US buyers through a virtual delivery programme; and developing a UK ‘Smart Distance Selling Process’, which includes the dispatch of food and drink samples to buyers.
  6. Leveraging Defra’s Food is GREAT campaign, which will extend into the UAE and the EU later this year, to provide impactful and targeted activity in priority export markets, such as USA, China and Japan. This also will be complemented by new agri-food creative imagery within DIT’s GREAT Ready to Trade campaign when this resumes in the summer, under the Food is GREAT and Invest in GREAT pillars.
  7. Two Virtual Investor Roundtables chaired by Lord Grimstone, Minister for Investment, with agri-food and drink, and agri-tech companies to inform the development of the UK’s investment strategy, the UK Agri-Tech International Strategy and the launch of Phase 2 of the High Potential Opportunity Programme.
  8. Uplift of UK Export Finance’s “Exporters’ Edge” campaign to further outreach and engagement to identify and respond to the needs of the industry and raise awareness of how UKEF and Trade Finance can help the businesses win and fulfil export contracts. UKEF is also accelerating the development of its products to allow a wider range of UK exporters to access its support. Its enhanced offer will provide easier access to working capital for UK exporters by offering financing that is not tied to specific export contracts but instead supports general business activities.

Read more at GOV.UK

Categories
AgTech Business Plan

SilviBio announced the winner of Agri-TechE 2020 GROW Business Plan Competition

The Agri-TechE 2020 GROW Business Plan Competition welcomed business plans describing new commercial opportunities based around new products or services to help increase the productivity, efficiency and sustainability of agricultural and horticultural production, or downstream food processing. The Competition was opened on 6th November 2019 and the closing date for submission of business plans was 15th April 2020. Applicants were supposed to clearly describe how they would help meet one or more of the objectives of improving productivity, efficiency or sustainability within agriculture or horticulture.

The judges – Calum Murray, Head of Agriculture and Food at Innovate UK; Kerry Baldwin, Co-Founder of IQ Capital; Rob Alston, director at AF Group; and Andrew McLay, an Innovation Lead for Agriculture at UKRI – reviewed the business plans of all the entrants and selected four companies, “SilviBio, Glaia, AgriOptimizer and Farmz2U” to go through to the final.

SilviBio, a company developing a solution to increase germination rates of tree seed, was announced the overall winner of GROW 2020 by Calum Murray of Innovate UK, one of the judges.

SilviBio founded in 2019 by a science entrepreneur Dr Alicja Dzieciol, an expert in the synthesis and characterisation of hydrogel materials, has developed a seed coating for conifers, that improves germination by 40 per cent where there is drought stress. SilviBio’s innovative bio-formulation creates a survival capsule for the seedling, providing a water source and slow release nutrition. It also creates a favourable environment for the growth of beneficial microorganisms.

The other 3 finalists include:

  1. Glaia: Glaia has developed a new class of plant additive called ‘sugar dots’ that can increase photosynthetic efficiency naturally, increasing yields by up to 20 per cent. Sugar-dots are water soluble and can be applied as a foliar spray or within an irrigation system and have been tested on a variety of crops from soft fruit through to wheat and sorghum.
  2. AgriOptimizer: AgriOptimizer aims to address the unsustainable fertiliser use problem by using the plant’s molecular signature as a way to precisely determine plant health issues at an early stage and create a fertiliser with a bespoke prescription.
  3. Farmz2U: Farmz2U is digitising agri data and combining it with data information on soil composition, weather trends, historic crop yields and animal health to provide tailored advice to farmers delivered by phone. In a pilot it has increased yield by 20%, more than doubled annual farm sales per farmer and created jobs for agricultural students.

About Grow: Launched in 2015, GROW is the UK’s first business plan competition for agri-tech. GROW aims to encourage a pipeline of agri-tech innovation by providing support and guidance through a mentoring programme and then access to a range of prizes provided by service providers in the agri-tech cluster. This includes support for patent protection and management, space in incubators, membership of business clubs, access to training and marketing and business advice.

Read more at Agri-TechE

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Plant-based Vegan

Not-for-profit investment company to help fund early-stage businesses in the plant-based food space.

Veganuary Co-Founder, Matthew Glover, launches new vegan investment fund, ‘Veg Capital’ – with all profits to go to charity! Veg Capital will provide Angel, Seed and Series A funding, with investments typically ranging from £50,000 to £250,000 to companies striving to replace the use of animals in the food system. The fund’s focus will be on companies that develop innovative plant-based and cultivated replacements to animal products, including meat, seafood, dairy and eggs.

Veg Capital is an ethical and environmental mission that seeks to reduce the burden on our planet, spare the lives of animals and create a sustainable food industry. Unlike traditional investment firms, Veg Capital plans to donate all profits to UK and European animal protection charities. 

‘Our aim is to drive up the supply of vegan foods while driving down demand for animal products. We invest in plant-based foods and then through our philanthropy help raise awareness and increase demand for that food. It’s a double whammy of activism. We’ve already provided funding to eight game-changer companies and there is much more to come!’

Matthew Glover, Managing Director, Veg Capital

Since COVID-19 began, we’ve seen plant-based product sales growth exceed that of animal-based products, both in meat and dairy categories. In the United States, sales of vegan meat jumped by a staggering 280% and sales of oat milk jumped by 477% in the second week of March compared to the same period last year, as the country became the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic. This meat crisis has become a big opportunity for plant-based protein companies that have developed healthier, safer and more environmentally friendly alternatives to traditional animal products.

Veg Capital portfolio include these plant based businesses:

  1. Mighty Pea: Mighty Pea M.lk, is a smooth and creamy, dairy-free alternative to milk, made from yellow split peas. It contains more protein and calcium than regular plant milk and split peas are a sustainable solution.
  2. Grounded: GROUNDED® make 100% natural sustainably packaged plant-based protein m*lkshakes. They have ambitious plans to innovate in & disrupt the wider functional f&b space with only natural, plant-based ingredients.
  3. Mummy Meagz: Mummy Meagz creates indulgent chocolate treats including a range of vegan Rockie Road bars and have recently launched the Chuckie Egg.
  4. TheVeganKind: The UK’s leading 100% vegan online supermarket and vegan subscription service.
  5. Plantifull: Delicious plant-based meal pots and high-protein vegan jerky. 100% plant-based snacks.
  6. Native Snacks: Native Snacks are on a mission to unearth plant-based snacks from around the world. Their first product range is Popped Lotus Seeds from India.
  7. One Planet Pizza: The UK’s first frozen vegan pizza company.
  8. Good Catch: Plant-based seafood. They’re disrupting the seafood category, not the ocean’s natural resources.
  9. Vevolution: Vevolution creates inspiring events and multimedia content for the plant powered positive changemakers.

Read more at Veg Capital

Categories
AgTech Investments

UK based agtech firm secures £750,000 equity investment

Agtech venture Agxio has secured a £750,000 equity to support its ambitious growth plans. The £750,000 equity investment comes from a mix of existing investors and the Development Bank of Wales alongside match funding from new professional investors.

“We are delighted to be working with the Development Bank of Wales who were always our preferred key strategic partner for the company and our plans in Wales. Wales is a world leader in both farming and technology. We aim to bridge both of those skills to create innovation in the food supply chain both domestically and internationally.”

Agxio chief executive and co-founder, Dr Stephen Christie

Backed by a world-class team of data scientists, engineers, domain specialists, technologists and commercial entrepreneurs, Agxio manages two flagship platforms: Apollo & Centaur.

  • Apollo operates beyond-human-scale performance, enabling the robotic platform to evaluate critical data to produce predictive models to solve real world problems. It then optimises these to look for patterns or configurations of parameters that human modellers may not even consider or have the patience to develop.
  • Agxio’s Centaur incorporate artificial intelligence and the latest advances in data and agricultural science to encode and enable industry best practice for all practitioners within agriculture. Innovation, driven by forward thinking and rigorous, scientifically principled activity connects all producers and suppliers in one ecosystem.

Life sciences, biotech and agricultural industries have been dramatically transformed through the availability of large volumes of data through IoT innovation and advances in technologies. Through the use of Artificial Intelligence, Data Science and Digital Innovation, we deliver actionable insights into these industries. We automate the data scientist and enable use cases in any complex data rich environment to deliver optimised machine learning solutions.

Agxio Industry Focus

The development bank’s equity investment from the Wales Technology Seed Fund will give them the potential to harvest the vast benefits that machine learning and data science can bring.

Read more at BusinessLive

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Uncategorized

Veterinarians ready to aid human medicine in pandemic

When it fast became clear that the world faced a shortage of supplies to treat COVID-19 patients, veterinarians across the world sprang to donate medical equipment, including ventilators and surgical masks. Now, veterinary professionals from London to New York are preparing to offer something else: themselves. The strain on national health-care systems is worsened by instances of physicians and nurses becoming infected with the virus. According to a report released Tuesday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as of April 9, at least 9,282 health care workers in the U.S. alone had COVID-19, and at least 27 had died.

Britain’s government-backed National Health Service (NHS) last week offered select veterinarians the opportunity to earn the equivalent of up to £24,157 (USD$30,080) per year to help treat human sufferers of COVID-19. In the U.S., a number of states, including New York, Illinois and Vermont, are asking veterinarians to stand ready to assist if needed, whether by offering their medical expertise in hospitals or by taking care of the dead at mortuaries.

Read more at Veterinary Information Network

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Uncategorized

Romanian fruit pickers flown to UK amid crisis in farming sector

Romanian workers are being flown in to help feed Britain amid a continuing recruitment crisis in the agriculture sector. Special charter flights have started flying into the UK from Bucharest with desperately needed workers for British farms that risk losing their crop of early summer fruit and vegetables because of the coronavirus lockdown. All passengers will be temperature checked, will have to fill in a questionnaire for a health declaration and will be given hand sanitiser and masks on the flight. They will also be socially distanced in the seating. UK farmers are following Germany after a “feed the nation” appeal backed by the environment secretary, George Eustice, failed to recruit enough British workers.

Read more at The Guardian

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Uncategorized

Differentiated fresh produce distribution channel

A new online platform is launched this week by the Fresh Produce Consortium as a means of ensuring that the fresh produce supply chain keeps moving across the UK. On Your Doorstep has been set up to provide a free of charge service for suppliers of fresh produce in a move to connect them with customers in their local area. On Your Doorstep has received huge support from the industry already and the platform is being populated with suppliers in each region of the UK, ready for its nationwide launch this week.

Development of such differentiated and innovative business models can have long lasting impact on the fresh produce industry. It will definitely support the fresh produce supply chain and keep it moving during these challenging times.

Read more at OnYourDoorstep