In today's rapidly evolving world, the pressure on our food production systems and the environment is intensifying. Balancing the need for quality, affordable food with the imperative to cut carbon emissions, bolster biodiversity, and rejuvenate farming practices is a significant challenge.
For many – be it agritech start-ups, established companies, academic institutions, or individual innovators – turning a novel concept into a practical solution can be daunting. Obstacles might include regulatory hurdles, scepticism about unconventional ideas, or simply a lack of resources.
Addressing Agritech Innovation Hurdles
Recognising these impediments, the Crop Health and Protection (CHAP) initiative was launched in 2016 as part of the UK Government's industrial blueprint. Operating as a non-profit, CHAP has continually adapted to the shifting needs of the agricultural domain. Thanks to significant past investments, CHAP now operates 15 facilities within 10 UK-based excellence hubs, with plans for further growth.
The urgency to discover revolutionary methods for food production, land management, and environmental protection has never been more pressing. This involves questioning established norms, harnessing new technologies and digital resources, and crafting smart solutions to agritech's most pressing issues.
It's crucial for all segments of the agritech sector to collaborate, share insights, and move beyond isolated thinking. Moreover, entities outside traditional farming and food sectors are now contributing fresh ideas and pioneering strategies to address both emerging and long-standing challenges.
CHAP's Remarkable Achievements
In the fiscal year 2022-23, CHAP's order book surpassed £1.8 million, contributing to over £6 million for the broader sector. This translated to 57 projects at its activity zenith, backed by both governmental and private entities.
These initiatives typically encompass collaborations between SMEs, academic bodies, corporate entities, and research institutions. They primarily focus on five critical domains: soil and crop health, crop diversification, advanced agronomy techniques, innovative crop health tactics, and controlled agricultural environments.
Linsey Cresswell, CHAP's commercial head, remarked on the organisation's resilience amidst industry upheavals, attributing their success to the collective drive of the agri-tech community to address today's intricate challenges.
CHAP's Foundational Principles
Since its inception, CHAP's achievements stem from its adaptable approach to sectoral challenges and its commitment to its members and partners. This is realised through four core activities:
Networking – CHAP boasts a dynamic membership of agri-tech experts who collaborate on both new and ongoing projects, fostering business growth and project partnerships.
Funding Guidance – CHAP offers expert counsel on funding avenues, assists in the application process, and provides project management post-funding.
Capabilities – Recognising the challenges SMEs face in accessing necessary equipment and lab spaces, CHAP, with early support from the UK Government, has developed state-of-the-art facilities across the UK to aid businesses based on their needs.
Dissemination – To gain momentum, innovative agri-tech solutions must be publicised. CHAP ensures the results of funded projects reach the broader industry through various communication channels, ensuring maximum outreach.
CHAP remains dedicated to transforming agritech concepts into actionable solutions, striving to revolutionise farming practices both in the UK and globally in a sustainable manner.