Example of controlled environment agriculture

Controlled environment agriculture in North and West Yorkshire

Companies in North and West Yorkshire are at the heart of the next agricultural revolution, using controlled environment agriculture (CEA) techniques for food production.

An opportunity exists to invest alongside a group of growing Agri-tech companies in North and West Yorkshire to develop innovative farming techniques that will transform food security and the circular economy.

Controlled environment agriculture Yorkshire


North and West Yorkshire

Investment type:

Foreign direct investment


Clean agri-tech

Rohini Kumar

Rohini Kumar

Investment Propositions Adviser

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Sector and market opportunity

CEA is an intensive, technology-based approach to food production. It aims to protect and maintain optimal growing conditions throughout the development of crops to produce profitable, year-round harvests.

Approaches to CEA vary, from using basic biosecurity with minimal intervention, through to embracing fully managed and contained grow spaces in an enclosed growing structure (such as a greenhouse).

This is a great opportunity for investors because of the relevant infrastructure in North and West Yorkshire and a growing market opportunity.

The UK is implementing growing methods such as hydroponics and indoor farming, meaning crops and plants can be grown on a large scale. The UK has more indoor farms than any other European country and Yorkshire has great expertise and strengths in agricultural production systems.

Growth prospects

Market demand for CEA is strong in the UK due to the high population density, high GDP per capita and significant segment of consumers who will pay for added-value fresh foods.

This is also a question of good timing, as the UK is only 61% self-sufficient in food, a gap that could be closed by CEA.

Vertical farming is a young, exciting and rapidly growing sector with an expected CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of more than 25% over the next five years. The global market opportunity is forecast to grow from £1.5 billion today to £8 billion in 2030.

Growth is driven by several factors and has a long list of benefits including tremendous sustainability.


North and West Yorkshire is a great place for CEA because of its wide variety of plants and insects. The innovative local farming techniques and the circular economy only strengthens the opportunity.

The area has a growing Agri-tech industry and that has encouraged the largest concentration of projects, start-ups and technology companies in Europe. Investors here can collaborate with more than 700 food production companies, 13,000 farms and 25,000 workers.


The region provides direct access to locations worldwide through Leeds Bradford Airport.

The area is also well connected through the local and national road network (M1, A1(M) and M62), major ports such as Hull and Grimsby, plus excellent rail links across the Pennines and to London.

Access to Humber Freeport is available to investors, which is a hub for global trade and investment, with tax incentives and customs support.

Local talent and skills

North and West Yorkshire features:

  • 5 world-class universities with highly trained graduates
  • 7 dedicated research organisations devoted to agriculture
  • 25,000 employees in agriculture in North and West Yorkshire

Research and expertise

The region has an abundance of accomplished research facilities, including the:

  • Crop Health and Protection (CHAP) Agri-tech Innovation Centre (funded by Innovate UK)
  • Global Food and Environment Institute (GFEI)
  • National Pig Centre
  • Stockbridge Technology Centre (STC)
  • York BioTech Campus

Region Spotlight
North of England


The North of England is recognised as a global centre for creativity and design and attracts thriving international investment. This heritage of expertise and manufacturing know-how is well established on the world stage, and historically gave birth to the Industrial Revolution.

View all investment opportunities in North of England

Enabling clean growth

The demand for CEA is driven by the UK’s clean growth strategy and a government commitment for net zero carbon agriculture by 2050.

Agri-tech innovation, alongside controlled environment techniques, will play a key role in lowering carbon emissions by reducing ‘food miles’ and contributing to the circular economy.

Local and national government support

The agricultural transition period started in January 2021. Between 2021 and 2027, the UK government will gradually reduce and then stop untargeted Direct Payments, using the money to support agriculture in different ways.

The government will pay farmers to improve the environment, improve animal health and welfare and reduce carbon emissions.

Three levels of support will pay for sustainable farming practices, creating habitats for nature recovery and making landscape-scale change such as establishing new woodland and other ecosystem services.

Success stories

Fera Science

For 25 years Fera Science has operated out of the Sand Hutton estate in Yorkshire and now shares the site with other bio and life science businesses on the York Biotech Campus.

Fera pioneers new diagnostic approaches and analytical science, driving ingenious products and techniques. Research collaboration with industry and other partner centres of excellence leverages its expertise in biology, biotechnology, chemistry, ecology, social and data science.

P3P Food Technology Park

P3P develops, operates and maintain its own and third-party sites in UK energy, waste and vertical farming sectors. These provide design and build expertise with 100% financing of construction costs.

The company developed a site in Selby to expand its glasshouse and energy supply portfolio, while also providing a springboard for its vertical farming and other Agri-tech plans.

Other opportunities

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