Agricultural science and technology is one of the world's fastest-growing markets. It is driven by global changes: a rising population, climate change, the rapid development of emerging economies, and growing instability around shortages of land, water and energy.
Breakthroughs in areas such as nutrition, plant science, informatics, satellite imaging, remote sensing, meteorology and precision farming mean that there are many opportunities in this area.
With agri-tech already a well-established and important sector, and with world-leading bioscientists in this country, the UK is well-placed to make the most of these opportunities.
In order to put the UK at the forefront of sustainable increases in agricultural production, businesses and researchers need to work together to develop innovative technologies and processes.
The new Agri-Tech Catalyst, set up by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and Technology Strategy Board with some £70M of government funding, will help to commercialise UK agricultural innovation and bridge the so called 'valley of death' between the lab and the marketplace.
The Agri-Tech Catalyst offers funding for collaborative projects, taking innovative ideas from any sector or discipline with the potential to provide an economic boost to the UK agri-tech industry, by tackling challenges in agriculture.
These challenges may be domestic or international: funding for the Agri-Tech Catalyst includes an element specifically targeted at contributing to international development.
Professor Douglas Kell, BBSRC Chief Executive, said: "Advances in agricultural technologies have underpinned virtually the whole of human civilisation and development. Today, advances in relevant basic, strategic and applied science provide a wealth of opportunity for the UK, both economically and socially."
"The launch of this catalyst will help to translate our world-leading food and farming research into practice so that we can make the most of these opportunities and offer real contributions to global food security."
The Agri-Tech Catalyst will help to take innovations all the way from concept to commercialisation, awarding grants for early-stage pre-industrial research feasibility studies, industrial research, and late-stage pre-experimental and experimental feasibility studies. Any UK business or academic researcher can apply.