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21 February, 2020 - 21:56 By Tony Quested

Cambridge banks on Missouri in AgriTech mission

Cambridge-based Agri-TechE is leading a delegation of early stage UK agri-food businesses to Missouri – the heartland of American agriculture – next week to open up to exciting opportunities for small UK firms within US trade and investment.

They are being given the inside track to exciting opportunities during an intensive four-day visit to St. Louis from February 23-27.

With UK farming increasingly considering its export potential and St. Louis situated at the centre of US food production, Agri-TechE director Dr Belinda Clarke explains the potential of the transatlantic initiative.

“The agri-tech innovation ecosystem in and around St. Louis is one of the world’s major strategic locations connecting farming, innovation and investment.

“It is an obvious partner for the Agri-TechE cluster as we expand our international activities and complements our ongoing support for early stage agri-tech companies, who need to go international quickly to gain market share.”

The ‘Missouri Agri-Tech Connect’ programme has been developed by Agri-TechE, the Missouri Partnership, World Trade Center St. Louis and the 39 North Innovation District (39 North) – initiatives of the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership – with support from the UK Department for International Trade and British Consulate-General.

It offers delegates from small UK agri-food companies the chance to connect with decision-makers from the state Department of Agriculture as well as Missouri farmers and producers, and gain cutting-edge insights at world-leading facilities such as the Danforth Plant Science Centre where unique platforms are being developed to better understand the workings of plants, and produce more staple and sustainable crops for use around the world that provide better nutrition and have a smaller environmental footprint.

CMO of the Missouri Partnership and UK Honorary Consul to Missouri, Mark Sutherland, said: “The past few years have seen a lot of work by many people across Missouri and the UK to bring two strong global leading agtech ecosystems together.”

Belinda agrees: “This trip is, we hope, the beginning of a long term partnership for mutual benefit and growth.”

Companies selected for Missouri Agri-Tech Connect include: Joseph Camm Farm and microbrewery; PBD Biotech, developers of a new blood test for TB; SmithsonHill, combining land, innovation and development expertise; Small Robot Company, pioneers of robots as a service; Willand Group, developers of technology for improving livestock management; Wroot Water, water management and irrigation specialists; and Wyld Networks, developers of wireless networks.

Cambridge-based Wyld Networks provides wireless networks support Internet Of Things projects. Business development manager Eric Hewitson says: “We are thrilled to be selected to participate in the Missouri Agri-Tech Connect Programme with the opportunity to meet key players in the US agricultural ecosystem. 

“Taking our technology into America is a major objective for Wyld Networks as we continue to extend our IoT connectivity technologies into the area of food security and agricultural sustainability.”

The Agri-TechE led delegation to St Louis follows a visit from Missouri to the UK last year. Tim Nowak, executive director of the World Trade Center St. Louis, said: “Agri-TechE and the UK government introduced us to many important connections and the goal now is to further our discussions and identify opportunities for collaboration, particularly around the areas of agriculture technology, agri-business and plant science.”

The Missouri Agri-Tech Connect visit will include meetings with the Missouri Department of Agriculture and other world leaders in agriculture technology, leading research institutions, business accelerators and venture capital firms. It is located on the banks of the Mississippi River and has been described as the ‘Ag Coast’ of America.

• PHOTOGRAPH SHOWS: Mark Sutherland (Missouri) with Belinda Clarke

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