Remarkable new technology means the UK can now decarbonise its agriculture sector and help its food supply chain become more sustainable.
The UK‘s agricultural market is one of Europe’s biggest. Its population of professional farmers and growers are keen to adopt new technologies that will help them become more efficient.
The domestic and international market is growing and, with a highly skilled workforce, a pro-business environment and an emerging ecosystem that supports collaboration, this is a fantastic opportunity for investors to take advantage of the UK’s momentum in this area.
Opportunities to invest in now
Freeport East (Felixstowe and Harwich)
Freeport East is a world-leading centre for clean energy production, offering a unique set of opportunities and support for investors, traders, manufacturers and suppliers. This includes access to innovation, technology and new collaborative partnerships.
Plant science for nutrition in Norfolk and Suffolk
Innovative companies in Norfolk and Suffolk are using plant science and genomics to improve sustainable food production and enhance the nutritional value of food.
Agri-tech investment opportunities in the UK are focused around 3 main areas:
The agri-tech space is rich in talent and the UK has a proven ability to develop new products and successfully bring them to market with commercial partners.
The UK’s food manufacturing and retail sectors are introducing innovation to drive the farm supply chain. This technology will increase productivity, meet customer demand and improve the environment.
A dynamic business environment
As one of the easiest places to do business compared to other major countries in Europe, the UK has a competitive pricing and tax and tariff environment (especially for R&D and innovation) and stable reliable supply chains.
The UK agri-tech sector is growing throughout the UK. In particular, it’s flourishing in the south-west of England and in the Midlands, where the dairy sector and precision engineering companies have a major presence.
However, the UK still requires significant scaling up to meet the net zero targets set out by the government.
Key UK assets
There are four centres for agricultural innovation located across the UK to specifically support the growth of clean agri-tech. These centres cover:
Agrimetrics focuses on agricultural informatics and metrics of sustainability using data science and modelling to build a more productive, sustainable and efficient food system. It plays a key role for any UK business that offers modern agri-focused products and services in both the UK and global markets.
Crop health and protection
The Centre for Crop Health and Protection will revolutionise how farmers manage crop threats including pests and disease, both in the UK and overseas.
In agriculture, it’s crucial that farmers and growers are successful. The Centre for Innovation Excellence in Livestock will create new livestock technology and products to boost the profitability and productivity of livestock farming.
Agricultural engineering innovation
The Agricultural Engineering Precision Innovation Centre operates in the new, fast-moving market of precision agriculture to help the UK’s agri-food sector develop advanced technologies that will increase productivity and sustainability in UK agriculture.
The UK’s new Agriculture Bill will help farmers stay competitive, invest in new technology and increase their productivity. Farmers and land managers in England will be rewarded in the future with public money for ‘public goods’ – such as better air and water quality, thriving wildlife and soil health under the Environmental Land Management scheme.
UK government support for agri-research is around £320 million per year, with an additional £90 million through its Industrial Challenge Fund to help transform food production.
Business and government support
The UK has a generous and internationally competitive R&D credit system, which includes the R&D expenditure credit, R&D tax relief and R&D allowance.
The Patent Box allows companies to apply for a reduced rate of corporation tax of just 10% on profits earned from patented inventions and certain other intellectual property.
Entocycle has developed technologies to optimise the production of black soldier fly. This is a sustainable alternative to traditional protein sources from soya and fishmeal, which have implications for deforestation, overfishing and loss of biodiversity.
Wastes from supermarket pre-consumer food, local households, restaurants and breweries, are fed to the insects, which are then used as protein in pet and livestock feed.
Saturn Bioponics has developed new growing systems for horticulture using UK scientific excellence in hydroponics and soil-less systems. Water and nutrients are delivered automatically and re-circulated ensuring maximum efficiency with no waste or polluting run-off. Yields are 3 to 4 times that of the same land area in traditional horticulture production systems.
Liberty Produce builds technology to enable the growth of local production year-round, using fully-controlled indoor vertical farming systems. Its targeted container-based growing systems facilitate hyper-local production.
This reduces food miles and provides a platform for food production within new environments where it was previously impossible.