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25 February, 2016 - 09:49 By Kate Sweeney

Growing an entrepreneurial culture in Agri-Tech

Belinda Clarke

Entrepreneurs with ideas for science or technology that could enhance agricultural productivity are being challenged to pitch into the GROW business plan competition.

Expressions of interest need to be registered by March 7 and plans submitted by April 29.

Once the competition has closed, a panel of experts will shortlist a number of plans to go through the final on June 22 at Throws Farm Technology Centre.

Organised by Agri-Tech East, the competition is designed to formalise raw ideas into tangible commercial strategies.

GROW will pair budding entrepreneurs with mentors and support will be provided to help develop the business plan prior to submission for judging.  The process is aimed at developing both the team and the business concept.
A new feature this year is the involvement of champions from organisations including: Anglia Farmers, Easton College, FramFarmers, John Innes Centre, Harper Adams University, University of Cambridge Department of Engineering, The Genome Analysis Centre and The Sainsbury Laboratory.

These individuals will actively engaging with potential entrepreneurs to start nurturing a pipeline of embryonic business ideas. 

Dr Belinda Clarke (pictured above left), director of Agri-Tech East, says considerable insight was gained from the first year of the competition in 2015.

She says: “GROW attracted an eclectic set of ideas, ranging from a computational genetics platform to speed up plant breeding, to an on-farm water management system from a wide range of people, including scientists, famers and people from other sectors with transferable ideas.

“Agriculture is under massive pressure from a number of angles – commodity prices, extreme weather patterns etc – and we believe adoption of appropriate technologies can be an important way to help farmers manage those challenges and increase their resilience. 

“I'm keen to see European investors making the kinds of investments we are seeing in the US. It has taken a while for some of the non-agri-tech investors to start to see the opportunities in the sector, especially in Europe.

“The recent interest in ‘big data’ as encouraged engineering and software companies that are not currently working in this area to consider supporting agriculture. I am hopeful that this hi-tech edge will appeal to investors who may not have a current interest in life science, and encourage them to engage with the agri-tech agenda.”

To register, visit

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