26 Feb 2018
Speaking at the National Farmers’ Union conference on 21 February, Business Secretary Greg Clark announced £90m for AI, robotics, and data science in agritech to improve innovation in the sector – part of the Transforming Food Production Challenge.
Clark laid out plans for the funding – part of the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund – including the formation of a bilateral research programme that will encourage international priorities and export opportunities for the agriculture industry.
The government hopes the funding will help the sector embrace innovative technologies that can help meet the world’s growing food demand and create more skilled jobs.
‘The agricultural sector is the biggest industrial sector in the UK, employing almost 4 million people and larger than the automotive and aerospace sectors combined,’ he said.
‘This [funding] will include the creation of ‘Translation Hubs’ bringing together farmers’ and growers’ businesses, scientists and Centres for Agricultural Innovation to apply the latest research to farming practice.’
The Ordnance Survey’s satellite imagery and data collection map of 200,000 miles of the UK’s farmland was singled out as an example of successful innovation that the government is seeking to replicate.
Prof Mark Walport, Chief Executive of UKRI, said: ‘Developing and effectively utilising the latest technologies and research methods will revolutionise the way we produce our food.
‘Right across the agricultural sector, we can make the process more efficient, more productive and more sustainable to deliver benefits for growers, producers and consumers.’
By Georgina Hines