Innovators have the chance to win agri-tech business support

Dr Belinda Clarke, director of Agri-Tech East

Dr Belinda Clarke, director of Agri-Tech East - Credit: Archant

A final call has been made for entries into a competition aimed at developing investable, commercial innovations for the agricultural industry.

Agri-Tech East is encouraging entrepreneurs and innovators to submit a 12-page business plan describing a new technology, product or service that can improve the efficiency, productivity or sustainability of agriculture and horticulture.

The objective of the GROW competition is to develop concepts with the potential to become new businesses, with the winners eligible for a cash prize of £1,000, plus the chance to select from a menu of further support designed to help accelerate their venture.

They include legal and patent advice, places on training programmes, membership of networking and innovation groups and six months free office or laboratory space at the Norwich Research Park.

All those that register an expression of interest by the closing date of March 1 will also benefit from the support of an experienced mentor to help them to develop their business plan.

Belinda Clarke, Director of Agri-Tech East, said: 'Agri-tech is a good sector to be exploring now - population growth brings pressure on resources, we need fresh approaches and these can come from non-traditional routes. We are anticipating that through GROW, entrepreneurs with technologies developed in other industries will be encouraged to explore the potential in agri-food.

'For example, salad is the ultimate fast-moving-consumer-good, with tight deadlines, the need for high levels of data-management and considerable scope for huge benefits in productivity through incremental process improvements. This is the type of challenge that is relished in other market sectors such as finance or logistics.'

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Miranda Weston-Smith is one of the mentors that have volunteered their time to support the applicants. She provides practical business development services for early-stage companies including the development of marketing plans and advice on business strategy, financing, and licensing.

She said: 'Farmers are innovators out of necessity, so there is considerable untapped talent in the sector. Bringing together talent and the needs of the times will generate new ideas.

'The role of the business plan is not just to define the business concept and outline the market opportunities but it is also a valuable vehicle to share your aspirations and ambitions with integrity and engage and energise others – your team, potential funders and collaborators.'

The business plan should identify the market opportunity, the business concept, the management team, their strengths and track record, financial predictions and the funding requirements.

Once the competition has closed, a panel of experts will short-list a number of plans to go through the final on June 8.

For more information about the GROW competition and how to apply, see