Agri-Tech : a growing part of Cornwall’s economy
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Agri-Tech: A Growing Part of Cornwall’s Economy

A new research, development and innovation Grant has been made available to boost agri-tech development in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly (C&IoS). This is thanks to the Cornwall Agri-tech Project funded through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), Cornwall Council and the Council for the Isles of Scilly – offering funding opportunities to small companies looking to develop relevant RD&I projects.

The Grant is designed to improve efficiency, profitability and resilience in Cornwall’s growing agri-tech sector. We think it’s a great opportunity for small businesses already based in the county or looking to set up in the region to try something new.

Robin Jackson, the director of the Agri-Tech Cornwall programme, sums up its benefits:

‘Cornwall’s strong agricultural heritage and culture, combined with exceptional rural internet capabilities and R&D facilities, make it an ideal location for innovators and developers in tech-led agriculture. The launch of this new fund is a fantastic opportunity for businesses to embrace these resources and try something they may otherwise have shied away from, for fear of not seeing an immediate return.’

Small businesses should take more risks

Many smaller agri-tech companies have innovative ideas but are afraid to implement them because of the financial risks involved. Innovation grants such as this solve the problem by giving companies a chance to try something new, without putting only their own capital on the line.

Cornwall has a strong agricultural and engineering heritage, but small businesses in this sector still face challenges.

‘Agri-Tech Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly’ is part of the 2014-2020 European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme which at present invests around £60million each year into C&IoS. This particular competition is described as ‘a £10m initiative to create a new sector for the Cornish economy, helping the United Kingdom become a world leader in agricultural technology and sustainability.’ These funds, along with match funding from Cornwall Council, will also contribute towards creating a brand new dairy systems research platform, ‘Future Farm’, based at Duchy College’s Stoke Climsland campus. This new facility will be distinct from a standard dairy farm with an infrastructure designed to enable research and innovation; measuring and comparing different factors and technologies for a healthy, productive and profitable dairy farm.

The Agri-Tech project is being led by Duchy College Rural Business School, in partnership with the Universities of Exeter and Plymouth, Rothamsted Research and Cornwall Development Company. Businesses interested in smaller innovation grants can take advantage of the links with great research facilities and the opportunity to access specialist advice further afield. Larger projects may want to be more collaborative and work with one of the research project partners on a proposal. To find out more, you can visit the website here.

Am I eligible?

If your company is new to research, or have already invested in research development and innovation (RD&I) and is based in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, or looking to set up in the county, you may be eligible if you have:

· Fewer than 250 employees

· An annual turnover of less than £50 million

There are four main areas where research should be focused:

· Animal health and welfare (especially in dairy animals)

· Maximising soil, water and nutrient use efficiency for sustainable crop and livestock production

· Improving the productivity of speciality crop production

· Utilising technology to drive Agri-tech productivity and innovation

The innovation grants available range between £2,500 and £50,000, and you can expect to work with Cornwall Development Company on your proposal. The larger collaborative grants are from £50,000 up to £250,000 and are delivered through the research project partners.

What can the money go towards?

As well as paying for the project itself, you can also put the money towards:

· Consultancy costs

· Feasibility studies

· Hiring specialist researchers

Thanks to Cornwall Development Company and the wider Agri-Tech Cornwall project, the future looks bright for agriculture in the region. By encouraging new technologies and focusing on innovation, Cornish agriculture can not only return to its former glory but act as an inspiration for the rest of the country.

If you are a company based in Cornwall or the Isles of Scilly or looking to relocate to the county and you think you might be eligible for the scheme, feel free to get in touch with us at GrantTree for support on eligibility and how to apply. You may also reach out directly to The Cornwall Development Company via agritech@cornwalldevelopmentcompany.co.uk.

If your company is doing innovative work in other parts of the country, you may be entitled to R&D Tax Credits or eligible for an Innovate UK Grant. These are both great ways for your company to take risks without putting too much of your own money on the line. Whichever route you decide to go down, the application process can be tricky and time-consuming. You’ll need to provide detailed evidence and present a strong case for your claim. That’s where we come in. We have years of experience with both R&D Tax Credits and Innovate UK Grants and we can make sure you stand the best possible chance of success. Get in touch today for more details

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