New UK farming innovation awards launched
Trinity AgTech and Harper Adams University’s School of Sustainable Food and Farming are introducing two new £5000 innovation prizes for collaborative ventures run by pioneering farmers.
The Farming Innovation Pioneers Awards are delivered through Harper Adams’ School of Sustainable Food and Farming (SSFF) and sponsored by Trinity AgTech’s Pioneers programme. They will be made to farmers who work with cross-industry stakeholders to spearhead transformational sustainability projects – those which drive the industry forward environmentally, socially or commercially, or a combination of all three.
The Awards have been launched in conjunction with the new School at Harper Adams University, of which Trinity Agtech is an inaugural delivery partner. The university’s deputy vice-chancellor professor Michael Lee will be among the judges of the award, along with the SSFF steering group.
Dr Hosein Khajeh-Hosseiny, executive chairman of Trinity AgTech, says the aim is to identify, support and elevate innovators and entrepreneurial thinkers who can drive change, particularly around sustainable production through collaboration with other industry stakeholders.
“This is a time of phenomenal opportunity for agriculture, yet currently the industry harnesses just 20% of its inherent innovative talent,” says Dr Khajeh-Hosseiny, who has spent the past 23 years helping companies manage transformational change.
“We want to provide a platform for mass innovation, empowering farms of all shapes and sizes, to give farmers and their business partners the freedom to explore their potential, free from noise, bias and misinformation that currently stifles creative talent.
“Innovation is a collaboration of many people – the computer, for example, wasn’t invented by one person. So, it’s time to unleash the genius of the many,” he says. “We want to reward those who successfully embrace the innovative potential of the food and farming ecosystem.”
Professor Lee says the judges for the Farming Innovation Pioneers Awards will look for collaborative projects that are in the early stages of development or are at the conceptual ideas stage with a clear plan.
“We’re looking for the pioneers who inspire co-creation, collaboration across skillsets; for ventures that recognise interdependencies and the mutual need for experimentation; and for innovation that cascades and drives industry-wide progress towards a more sustainable agriculture,” he says.
“The awards will not only recognise the inherent talent we have within the UK farming industry, they will inspire our students to find creative ways towards a more sustainable future. This marries new thinking and new technologies with a deep-seated understanding of what works.”
To qualify, applications must be:
- Innovative – signal a new approach to practices, structures or culture across the food and farming industry;
- Collaborative – at least two other individuals beyond the farm must be collaborating with the farmer;
- Sustainable – productive but with a reduced environmental footprint, supporting biodiversity, rural societies and upholding leading animal welfare;
- Scalable – capable of emulation and replication by many other farmers;
- Evidenced – able to show how multiple stakeholders, including the farmer, are working together to be innovative to benefit the whole ecosystem.
The awards are open for written applications until 1 May 2022 and a panel of expert judges will review and select winners by 1 June 2022. All applications will be judged on the level of Innovation; Collaboration; Sustainability and Scalability.
Dr Khajeh-Hosseiny highlights Sandy, the new digital assistant from Trinity AgTech, as a good example of industry collaboration, bringing together software and digital expertise with scientists and farmers to create a unique tool. Sandy allows farmers to accurately and independently assess their farm’s sustainability. It will help them plan their path to greater profitability, provide robust provenance for their produce and capitalise on the natural assets they care for.
“The world of agriculture will become remarkably different to what it is today, and Sandy can play a pivotal role in that transformation,” says Dr Khajeh-Hosseiny.
“There is an incredible amount of innovation coming along, with over 2000 start-ups moving into agtech – they will be fuelling farmers’ abilities to be pioneers.
“But this requires a trusted ecosystem approach – true innovation is a collaboration of many, free to think, experiment and speculate, enjoying clear, simple authoritative information. This is what Sandy provides.”
Examples of innovations the judges expect to see include farmers working together with banks and retailers to set up new types of a more sustainable farm enterprise; development of new low disturbance machinery through farmer/manufacturer collaboration; the co creation of low methane diets in the livestock sector.
For more information, and to register for a webinar that provides a demonstration of Sandy, go to trinityagtech.com.