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Evolving agri-tech group celebrates its growing national influence

PUBLISHED: 11:08 27 December 2019 | UPDATED: 15:26 27 December 2019

Agri-Tech East won the National Networking Group of the Year prize at the SME Business Awards 2019. From left: Fiona Rust, Becky Dodds, Laura Bouvet, Belinda Clarke.

Agri-Tech East won the National Networking Group of the Year prize at the SME Business Awards 2019. From left: Fiona Rust, Becky Dodds, Laura Bouvet, Belinda Clarke.

Agri-Tech East

An award-winning organisation which promotes technological advancement in farming will change its name in the New Year to reflect its growing national influence.

Alex Dinsdale has joined Agri-Tech East. Picture: Agri-Tech EastAlex Dinsdale has joined Agri-Tech East. Picture: Agri-Tech East

Agri-Tech East is to become Agri-TechE from January to reflect the expansion of its membership beyond the east of England.

The business cluster also recently won the National Networking Group of the Year prize at the SME Business Awards 2019 at Wembley, which director Dr Belinda Clarke said was another endorsement of the organisation's success.

"Agri-Tech East was established to bring together farmers and growers with scientists, technologists and entrepreneurs to create a global innovation hub in agri-tech - it seemed an ambitious vision," she said.

"However, the concept quickly captured the imagination and support of individuals from a wide range of backgrounds, and together we have built a vibrant agri-tech cluster that is not restricted by geography.

"Although the name Agri-Tech East worked well for us in the early days - as it showcased the innovation emerging from the east of England - it has become clear that we have now effectively outgrown our name.

"Our members now come from across the UK and from overseas. The research community has always had a global outlook and early stage agri-tech companies need to go international quickly to gain market share."

To support its future growth plans, the organisation has recruited experienced agri-tech advocate Alex Dinsdale to join the team.

Mr Dinsdale spent ten years working for the National Farmers' Union before joining agri-tech start-up Ursula Agriculture, one of the first companies to introduce drones to farming, and then precision farming business SOYL, one of the market leaders in the use of yield mapping and precise nutrient application.

He said: "By bringing together food production, technology and the natural environment as part of 'One Agriculture', Agri-TechE is driving forward an approach that will see agriculture's environmental sustainability continue to improve. I am very interested in exploring how agri-tech can be used to increase the sustainability and productivity of agriculture.

"The rapid advances in agricultural innovation and technology that we've seen over the past few years are very exciting and represent massive environmental, economic and social opportunities. Agri-Tech East has played an important role in supporting these activities and I am delighted to join the team as the organisation enters a new phase in its growth."

Agri-TechE's plans for 2020 include visits for members to agri-tech clusters in Missouri in the USA and Saskatchewan in Canada, an agri-tech business plan competition to develop a pipeline of young companies, networking meetings and inward investment opportunities.

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