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AgriTech ‘pre-accelerator’ programme helps take businesses from across the UK to the next level

Posted 23 July

The Cultivate logo

An AgriTech ‘pre-accelerator’ programme helping take its participating businesses to the next level has drawn a diverse UK-wide cohort to its virtual sessions.

The Cultivate Programme is delivered by Harper Adams University staff and industry experts, and is supported by Barclays Eagle Labs.

The programme is working with 10 Agri-tech and Agri-food businesses selected from across Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and is now well underway, with its cohort already more than half way through their sessions.

Cultivate Project Manager Emma Cantillion - herself a rural business owner - said: “By helping these businesses focus on where they started, where they are now and where they want to be, the Cultivate programme aims to help develop the next generation of Agri-tech and Agri-Food businesses across the UK.

“The programme is delivered virtually, meaning that we can welcome participants from across a wide geographical area.

“With the support of Barclays Eagle Labs. we draw upon on the expertise of leading businesspeople and industry experts – including colleagues from Harper Adams, the UK’s leading agricultural university.

“Each week, we work to examine and understand both the challenges and the opportunities businesses can encounter - including finances, access to funding, upscaling production, sustainability, and routes to market.”

The programme’s half-day weekly sessions provide participating business with a structured and fast-paced step up to help them take their products, processes, and services to the next level.  There is also dedicated mentoring support available – including dedicated one-to-one guidance from sector experts.

Businesses from right across Great Britain and Northern Ireland are taking part in the Cultivate programme.

They include a Belfast-based community interest company which introduces marginalised young people and adults with autism to hydroponic growing; an organisation developing a high throughput low-cost mobile fertilizer machine, which can produce nitrogen fertilizer using only air, water and electricity; and a business whose cleantech process allow fresh ingredients to be preserved for longer while retaining their flavour and texture.

Among those businesspeople taking part is Tim Franklin, from Olitory Kitchen, a Telford based pierogi manufacturer who create ‘dumplings of deliciousness’ combining British and Polish flavours.

Tim paid tribute to the way Cultivate sessions had made him consider his company in a new light, adding after one which examined perceptions: "The session was really good. I like how it pushed me out of my comfort zone to talk about my business to other people in a different way."

Dave Kilbey, of Natural Apptitude – whose smartphone-based apps help people to collect and analyse a range of environmental data – praised the way that the Cultivate sessions had made him consider sustainability issues and how they related to his business, using the doughnut theory of economics which examines the interplay of planetary and social boundaries.

He said: "It has sparked some ideas around what I still refer to as the Green Economy - showing my age - and how Natural Apptitude can begin to assess and account for the negative impact we have on the environment, just by dint of existing.

“I will be diving into doughnut economics in my spare time."

Emma added: “We’re delighted that the Cultivate programme has drawn such a diverse range of businesses – and is already sparking off discussion, ideas and action.

“By helping these businesses focus on where they started, where they are now and where they want to be - including finances, access to funding, upscaling production, sustainability, and routes to market - we can give them the fine-tuning they need to take the great work they are already doing to the next level.”

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