"By 2050, there will be just too many people on earth to feed sustainably; unless something changes," says SmithsonHill, a joint venture between Russell Smith Farms and Hill Commercial Investments.
The UK agriculture industry is under enormous pressure to redefine its farming and food supply chains and to speed up the adoption and role out of new Agritech innovations to deliver sustainable change.
"As in the technology and life sciences clusters, the real power of the Agritech sector is in the way innovators are working across sectors, applying technology in new ways and using data more efficiently. But industry is calling out for a physical central site where “creative collisions” between businesses can happen," says a spokesperson for SimithsonHill.
The group believe that the UK could have a future as the heart of the global Agritech industry; becoming a magnet for companies seeking to commercialise ideas and scale faster.
Their vision is to create ARC, which they describe as "a dedicated Agritech park to help the UK take its place as a global player for Agritech commercialisation, by developing an Agritech Park next to Cambridge to build on its world-renowned existing science and technology clusters."
At its heart will be a 3,000 m2 innovation hub for Agritech entrepreneurs.
Cambridge is especially well-placed to support the commercialisation and scale up of the emerging Agritech solutions and is already thought of as the leader of the new Agritech global cluster.
“The proposed development will solve the challenge of working fast enough to take advantage of Agritech opportunities, in addition to helping companies like mine scale up,” explained Oli Hilbourne, Founder & Director of Operations, Outfield Technologies.
"ARC’s proximity to Cambridge, links to other Cambridge technology clusters, and a location near key transport links, including the Oxford–Milton Keynes–Cambridge Corridor, means that the ARC site can help Agritech companies be market-leading both within the UK and globally. While ‘brand Cambridge’ is proving more popular than ever before with international investors and provides an ideal landing point for new companies to the UK."
“I am sure the ARC facility will attract major players from the global Agritech industry to the UK and will act like a magnet to bring in companies, employment and investment to the UK,” said David Flanders, CEO, Agrimetrics.
"ARC will meet the needs of the UK Agritech sector with a global-scale development focused on supporting commercialisation and convergence across technologies. SmithsonHill's vision is based on collaboration, environmental and business sustainability on a thriving physical site with companies commercialising new ideas across technologies, to support an estimated 4,000 jobs and increase regional GVA by £277m per year by 2030.
"ARC would deliver a central resource in a key location, bringing businesses and people together while also generating broader opportunities for agriculture. Critically we believe the significance of timeliness of this project will not only bring benefits to the East of England, but will ultimately spread the opportunity across the whole of the UK.
"As highlighted in the new Agriculture Bill, the agricultural community now has little more than ten years to find the solutions to reduce global warming, reverse the effects of climate change and ensure sustainable farming methods are in place. It’s too late for ‘business-as-usual’."
SmithsonHill and the broader national and international Agritech cluster are calling on MPs and policymakers to support this emerging industry by supporting ARC, a dedicated site for Agritech.
Find out more here.