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Since 2007, Innovate UK has invested around £2.5bn to help businesses across the country to innovate, with match funding from industry taking the total value of projects above £4.3bn.

Innovate UK has helped 8,500 organisations create around 70,000 jobs and added an estimated £18bn of value to the UK economy. In the period 2019/2020, Innovate UK received 5,794 applications for grant funding and made 949 awards. £645,886 was awarded in terms of grant funding, 24% of the total amount applied for.

The funding awarded has enabled many companies to carry out R&D activity with the aim of developing new technological knowledge that will benefit not only their own business but also advance overall capability in the applicable industry sector.This is a selection of Innovate UK’s successful Agriculture stories

Soil Essentials Limited Industry Sector: Agriculture/software

Soil Essentials Limited is an award-winning and leading Scottish precision agriculture company. The company applied to Innovate UK for £401,236 by way of grant funding to support a collaborative R&D project with Scottish Agronomy Limited, Peacock Technology Limited, the University of West of England and Deimos Space UK.

The aim of the project was to develop a software platform, SKAi, that would be able to calculate the amount of plant protection product that should be applied to crops, in a targeted way. Soil Essentials Limited submitted that there is an urgent agronomic, economic and political need to modernise and update agrochemical applications to crops from the traditional practice of applying a uniform rate across the whole crop to a much more targeted approach.

The new platform, SKAi, aims to satisfy this need by building a smart camera and artificial intelligence platform for use by farmers, agronomists and agrochemical applicators. This platform will be integrated into the existing KORE – precision agricultural platform to extend its functionality to allow the support of in field smart cameras using image transfer and machine learning. Using this system, Soil Essentials aims to dramatically reduce the total amount of crop protection products applied to crops in the UK and worldwide. The project was awarded £605,252 by way of funding with Soil Essentials Limited awarded £280,865.

PhaSE Change Material Products Limited Industry Sector: Agriculture/material science technology

PhaSE Change Material Products Limited is a company based in Peterborough that specialises in the development of Phase Change Materials (PCMs).

The company applied to Innovate UK for funding of £225,015 to be used in a collaborative R&D project with E.H.Thorne (Beehives) Limited, Healthy Bees Limited and the University of Nottingham.The aim of the project was to develop an innovative BeeSave device to kill Varroa mites in beehives. The device uses a phase change material pack that releases heat into the beehive at a temperature that will kill the Varroa mites but be safely tolerated by bees and also not cause damage to the beehive.

PhaSE Change Material Products Limited submitted that the technology was highly portable and simple to use, as heat is released by triggering the metal disk installed in the device. The project was awarded £454,050 by way of funding with PhaSE Change awarded £1 57, 511.

Yagro Limited Industry Sector: Agriculture/Data Analytics

Yagro Limited is a Cambridge based company that is developing innovative data and analytics solutions for the agricultural industry. The company applied to Innovate UK for grant funding of £58,809 to allow it to develop a unique ‘Technology, Assessment and Recommendation’ (TAR) service for farms across the UK. TAR consists of an audit of the technology tools currently used across the farm business, considering13key areas where technology can bring significant productivity gains.

From this assessment, the company would then help the farm discover, understand, and adopt possible solutions to improve their productivity. Yagro Limited had conceived of TAR out of an acknowledgement that the younger generation of farmers have expectations of digital support, to improve productivity of farming, that does not currently exist. Yagro conceived of TAR with the aim of producing an effective, sustainable dissemination of technology tools to farming SMEs at scale and the overall ambition is to improve farming productivity.

The application was successful and Yagro Limited was awarded £58,809 by way of funding.

To download a copy of these Agriculture and Horticulture case studies, please click here

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