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£90 million to help feed the 9 billion

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Applications for the first round of funding from a £90 million pot to revolutionise how food is produced, and reduce its environmental impact, will begin later this month the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) has announced.

The Transforming Food Production Challenge, part of the Government’s Industrial Strategy, will bring together the UK’s agri-food sector with robotics, satellite, data and digital technologies and artificial intelligence. It is hoped the Challenge will help make the UK a world leader in precision farming techniques.

“Precision farming is the future of farming and food production,” said Professor Melanie Welham, Executive sponsor for the Transforming Food Production Challenge at UK Research and Innovation. “There is an enormous opportunity for the UK to lead the world in deploying smart technologies to the field, farm and factory and truly transform the entire ‘farm to fork’ supply chain. We have to grasp that opportunity now, and the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund will help make that happen. We will be able to farm sustainably, produce healthy, nutritious and economically viable food, while preserving farmland and the wider environment for future generations,”

The UK agri-tech sector contributes £14.3 billion to UK economy, employing 500,000 people, with companies and researchers developing pioneering technologies from farming drones to 3D printing. The first funding competition call opens on Monday 20 August 2018 with an investment up to £20 million. The call has two main themes:

  • To drive productivity and improve environmental outcomes in crop and ruminant production systems
  • To develop new, highly efficient, high-value food production systems that maximise productivity and improve environmental performance.

Projects must focus on the development of enhanced decision support, precision agriculture technology solutions and systems.

Photo Caption: Professor Melanie Welham.

Photo Credit: BBSRC

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