UK - Agricultural firms and farmers across the UK are being urged to apply for multi-million pound grants to work alongside space technology companies on projects to develop new ways of using satellites to improve food productivity.
Space technology is already being used to make food production more efficient and, in the process, meet the growing demands of an expanding world population that is predicted to reach more than nine billion by 2050.
The business lead ‘Satellites for Agri-Food’ consortia-building event in London on 7 October will bring together business, entrepreneurs, thought-leaders and funders to address challenges facing the food and agriculture sectors, and assess what satellites can do to help.
Hosted by the Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN), it is open to all companies involved in the food, agriculture and space industries.
The event, which is free to attend, will also cover a new funding competition worth up to £3.75 million from Innovate UK, along with £18 million (€25 million) available through the European Horizon 2020 agriculture programme.
“Farming and the high-tech space industry have the potential to significantly boost food production and help avoid a future global food crisis if they work closely together,” says Dr Andy Powell, a Knowledge Transfer Manager with the KTN supporting the UK Space Industry.
"Rising populations, reduced resources and climate change mean the agriculture and food sectors need to operate more efficiently than ever," he adds.
“Satellites can revolutionise the sectors, helping producers and retailers provide enough quality food for people. Space technology is already helping monitor crops and livestock with pinpoint accuracy, optimising food transport and stocks, and improving operations by providing seamless communications across farms.”
“Our goal is for everyone to make new connections and create innovations,” says Dr Powell.
“Ultimately this will be great for all three industries - space, agriculture and food - as well as the UK's economy overall.”
Dr David Telford, Knowledge Transfer Manager for Agriculture at the KTN, believes there are some in the industry that might not recognise the importance of satellites and space technology.
“They are crucial, crossing all aspects of agriculture from crops to livestock,” he says. “But there is a danger satellite providers don't know what the farming challenges are and agriculture doesn't know what space technology can achieve.
“It's vital therefore that all sides come along to learn from each other. Even if you think it's not relevant or you’re not sure, come along and you might be surprised. We often find the best innovation happens when you bring together different companies that wouldn't usually meet and this event is a prime example,” adds Dr Telford.
‘Satellites for Agri-Food’ aims to offer each industry sector the opportunity to learn from the other, as well as opening the door to future collaborations. It is being held at the Congress Centre, 28 Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3LS.
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