Pershore College is launching a call for grant proposals to support the development of the agri-tech sector within Worcestershire.
The grants of £1000 upwards will support Worcestershire companies to make capital purchases needed to develop innovations to improve efficiency, profitability and resilience in the horticultural and agricultural sectors.
A total grant pot of £160,000 aims to help approximately forty businesses at a forty percent intervention rate making a total investment of £400,000.
The project is part of GrowAgri Worcestershire, a £1.5 million joint initiative between the college and the European Regional Development Fund, which also delivers tailored business support to SMEs operating within agri-tech and agri-food industries.
The initiative aims to support business growth, increased productivity and the introduction of new products, processes and services and is open to all small to medium-sized Worcestershire businesses eligible for ERDF funding.
Roy Kennedy, Professor in Agri-Tech Research and Development at Pershore College said: “In order to tackle climate change, the degradation of our natural resources and feed a growing population there is an urgent need to develop sustainable farming practices and production methods. Agri-tech plays a key role in developing new solutions and technologies that help to improve efficiency and productivity.
“A unique combination of diverse soils and temperate climate means that Britain has some of the best growing conditions for fruit, vegetable and ornamental crops in the world. The industry is worth £3 billion per year and the Vale of Evesham is a key heartland known for its production of soft fruit, plums, salad and vegetable crops.
“Yet, the country’s self-sufficiency in food has declined over the last 30 years and the Government acknowledges that climate change will present significant risks to our food supply. The UK urgently needs to adopt new food production technology that can provide sustainable food production systems and the GrowAgri programme aims to accelerate this area of technological development within Worcestershire.”
The project is particularly seeking to engage with engineers, food technologists, agronomists, systems analysts or any business that develops technologies that could be transferable across different industrial sectors.
GrowAgri Project Manager, Mark Harwood-Browne said: “This grant funding will help Worcestershire-based enterprises to diversify into new agri-tech markets by supporting them financially when making capital purchases which they need to expand. Applications will be assessed on the basis of need and suitability with applications resulting in the greatest positive impact on the business being most likely to be approved.”
Selected businesses will have to be eligible for funding from the European Regional Development Fund.