Westminster 30th October 2018

Why Cambridge’s proposed AgriTech site is critical for the UK Government’s Industrial Strategy

In its quest to build a Britain fit for the future, the UK government puts AgriTech high up on its Industrial Strategy agenda.

With the technological revolution that is happening, the skills of the farming workforce need to keep pace. New technologies require new abilities and today’s modern British farmer is a Swiss-Army-Knife of skills. An engineer, an environmentalist, a data scientist, a biochemist, an energy producer, a tourism entrepreneur, and an investor too.

As part of the Industrial Strategy, we announced a Transforming Food Production Challenge and I’m delighted to announce the government will invest £90 million to make this challenge a reality.

This 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.

Rt Hon Greg Clark, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

The inclusion of ‘Place’ as one of the Strategy’s five factors of productivity, recognises that plans evolving from it must be delivered locally. In the recently published Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Independent Economic Review (CPIER)[1], when it comes to a centre of expertise on the convergence of agriculture and enabling technology from other sectors, it’s

‘Cambridge or Overseas’

Cambridge – delivering the UK’s Industrial Strategy for AgriTech

So why Cambridge?  It is home to many global life science and technology businesses and has a track record of bringing together cross sector experts to create world-leading solutions.  The region is home to 50% of the nation’s most fertile land, and a growing number of global food processing and packaging organisations reside there.

To compliment an AgriTech cluster in Cambridge we need to support new production clusters close to concentrations of agricultural production… we should focus on building on the competitive advantage in food production by developing some of the best supply chains in the world, and by providing a real testbed for the technologies developed in Cambridge.

CPIER Final Report, CPIEC, September 2018

Additionally, Cambridge has easy access to international airports, access to venture capitalist funds from both London and within Cambridge, and access to specialist start-up and growth business support, specifically in accessing funding and professional support services.  And that’s before taking into consideration its growing tribe of AgriTech companies, many specialising in the industries identified in the Industrial Strategy as key to ensuring global leadership (AI and data, and clean growth).

This is a buoyant sector – there are already over 200 AgriTech businesses in the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough region alone, as well as new research arising from Cambridge, and further afield in Norwich, Lincoln and Rothamsted.

AgriTech is a key sector for the Eastern region, but action will need to be taken quickly to ensure we build on this established sector and seize the opportunity for major growth as the global demand for AgriTech continues to grow exponentially.

ARC, SmithsonHill’s proposed AgriTech site in South Cambridgeshire enables all of this, and more.

I am sure the ARC facility will attract major players from the global AgriTech industry to the UK and will act like a magnet to bring in companies, employment and investment in the UK.

David Flanders, Agrimetrics

To ensure this global opportunity for the region is not lost, action is necessary.  Please support Cambridgeshire in playing its part in building a Britain fit for the future.

Download our full discussion document here:

Robot hand with plant in it

[1] Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Independent Economic Review, Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Independent Economic Commission, September 2018