Agri-Tech East business plan competition offers mentoring

How do you turn a good idea into an early-stage business? GROW 2016 is the UK’s only agri-tech business plan competition, and aims to encourage people with an innovative concept to explore if it has the potential to become a new product or service.

Dr Belinda Clarke, Director of Agri-Tech East, explains how the journey is as valuable as the destination:

“Good businesses don’t emerge fully formed overnight, they take a while to develop and evolve. This process can be much faster if you have the help of a mentor who has experience of the industry, understands the best ways to establish a business and also is aware of the pitfalls to avoid.

“We are aiming to provide this support with the GROW business plan competition. Individuals or teams need to register their interest before 7th March and they are then assigned a mentor to help them to develop a business plan. The plans are submitted for scrutiny by a panel of judges and the teams are given feedback.

“A short list of the best plans is drawn up and the owners invited to present to the judges in June. Every stage of the process is a learning opportunity.”

There is grant funding available for good ideas and many investors are interested in agri-tech solutions, however new business development is unfamiliar to many in agriculture. GROW aims to address this by encouraging an entrepreneurial culture in agri-tech.

In addition to the support and guidance from a mentor for every entrant, the winning entry will win £1,000, and the winner and runners-up can also choose from a number of support prizes to help them progress their business plan into practice.

This year the support prizes have been provided by: Barr Ellison LLP, Cambridge Cleantech, Cambridge Network, Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning, Cambridge Judge Business School, Future Business Centre, IdeaSpace, Norwich Research Park, Norfolk Network.

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