Transformational tech is set to drive productivity in the food, drink and agriculture sector with support from Opportunity North East (ONE).
Innovative north east businesses are accelerating their work to bring new solutions to market with ONE co-funding and another three businesses are currently applying for funding that will help them with proof-of-concept projects.
Herd Advance, Grown Agritech and KITE DB are creating new industry products and applications for cattle herd management, monitoring indoor growing systems, and live-streaming access to remote expert support with co-funding from ONE Food, Drink & Agriculture’s agrifood tech programme.
The ONE Food, Drink & Agriculture agrifood tech programme, launched in 2020, helps businesses develop new digital capability in areas including real-time control in production systems, supply chain innovation, livestock farming productivity and data interpretation to drive decision making and efficiency. It includes collaborative working between the producer and digital communities in the region through ONE to speed up the development process.
ONE is driving the development of digital solutions to boost productivity by 25% in the region’s £2.2 billion food, drink and agriculture sector. This forms part of broader ONE-led action and investment with partners to deliver sustainable business growth, create new jobs and support green economic recovery.
Peter Cook, director of food, drink and agriculture at ONE, said: “Agrifood tech is transforming the industry. Automation and artificial intelligence, digital sensor systems, and data analysis tools improve efficiency in supply chains and give our producer and processor businesses a competitive advantage. Digital technology creates the opportunity, for example, to deliver high levels of individual animal management even in very extensive outdoor livestock systems – this is what consumers want.
"ONE is working with individual businesses and industry partners to accelerate the development and adoption of tech solutions. The productivity and sustainability gains achieved for businesses and farm to fork supply chains will contribute to green economic recovery, future jobs and low carbon food production,” said Mr Cook.
Herd Advance develops innovative on-farm tech and systems to drive improvements in beef cattle herd management through greater efficiency, reducing carbon footprint and increasing profitability. Jilly Grant, co-founder and managing director, said: “Our involvement with ONE via the agrifood tech programme and the ONE Enterprise Fund, along with the support and encouragement from Peter Cook and colleagues, has aided us with rapid commercialisation of our Stockman technology. Without this support it would have been a much harder journey.”
Grown Agritech is developing software and artificial intelligence to manage indoor vertical farming food production systems supported by a digital platform. Duarte De Carvalho, co-founder and director, said: “The funding and access to professionals with sector and market knowledge provided by ONE has accelerated completion of our digital platform prototype, which we intend to start testing on a free trial with Scottish farms using indoor food growing systems. With ONE's support we are a step closer to implementing solutions that can make our local food production more resilient to local and global challenges.“
KITE DB has developed a live video and audio stream solution with augmented reality that uses smartphones connected to wi-fi, 4G or 5G networks that enables remote experts – such as vets and agronomists – to assist workers in the field. Pat McKay, director at KITE, said: “Funding support from ONE has allowed us to complete field trials of KITE’s live streaming remote site support solutions. Our livestreaming platform and cameras have been successfully deployed in live work environments, which has resulted in a significant increase in engagement across industry sectors including agriculture, land management, animal health, energy and construction.”
There are 22,000 people employed in the food, drink and agriculture industry in north east Scotland and the region accounts for more than 20% of Scotland's food and drink output. The area leads on the production of Scotland's quality primary produce from land and sea and is home to some of the country's most iconic brands. The regional industry ambition is to double outputs from the sector by 2030.
Herd Advance develops innovative on-farm tech and systems to drive improvements in beef cattle herd management through greater efficiency, reducing carbon footprint and increasing profitability. Its Stockman herd solution enables users to monitor livestock in real-time and sort them automatically, effectively digitising their herd to drive growth performance, improve health, increase labour efficiency and worker health and safety. The ONE co-funding supports the addition of a thermal imaging camera to the system to monitor animals' core body temperature. Adding temperature to the system's existing weight and water recordings creates a powerful combination of individualised animal data to support disease identification and aid cattle management.
Grown Agritech is developing software and artificial intelligence to manage indoor vertical farming food production systems supported by a digital platform. The platform integrates the internet of things (IoT), data science and machine learning to maximise production efficiency. The ONE co-funding helps develop a remote farm monitoring platform where the client can access critical performance measures in real-time to drive decision making.
KITE DB has developed a live video and audio stream solution with augmented reality that uses smartphones connected to wi-fi, 4G or 5G networks. The system enables remote experts – such as vets and agronomists – to assist workers in the field. The ONE co-funding supports the development of a low-cost mini live-stream camera and sensor to complement the software, designing a casing for the hardware and a field trial.
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