World-leading research and technology will be brought together to improve the efficiency and output of agriculture and enhance worldwide food security, following announcement of a £74m investment for a new Agritech Hub, reports the University of Edinburgh.
The Easter Bush Agritech Hub in Scotland will be supported by £27 million from the UK Government, £1.3 million from the Scottish Government, and £31.3 million from the University of Edinburgh, as partners of the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal, the university said.
Researchers will apply the use of data to develop genetics and health innovations in the agriscience and agribusiness arena.
Their work will form part of a solution for global future food systems and the transformation of the agritech sector to a net zero carbon future.
The Hub will bring together researchers from the University of Edinburgh and other higher education institutions, along with commercial, public and third sector organisations.
It will engage with existing and emerging areas of innovation such as data-driven breeding and aquaculture to encourage, enable and analyse data that will improve the agriculture industry worldwide.
The Agritech Hub, based at the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies’ Easter Bush Campus near Roslin, Midlothian, is part of the City Region Deal’s investment into data-driven innovation.
The investment will support the Hub and associated infrastructure, in close collaboration with project partners Midlothian Council.
The Easter Bush AgriTech Hub aims to develop world-leading research capability in data science, Edinburgh University said. It will build collaborative partnerships with industry, supporting new initiatives and novel systems of production such as robotics.
The Hub will address skills shortages and gaps in the industry, as well as encouraging graduates to set up or join micro-agritech companies.
Researchers will inform future food and environmental policies, working closely with the Scottish and UK public sector including the Animal and Plant Agency (APHA), Scottish Government Animal Health and Welfare Division, Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) and industry such as the InnovateUK Agritech Centres.
The Easter Bush Campus already provides a dynamic and vibrant home – featuring world class facilities equipped with the latest technologies – to over 1,000 scientists, lecturers and clinicians, as well as co-locating industry business partners across animal biosciences and food security.
It is the academic home for animal science within Scotland and represents Europe’s largest concentration of animal science research expertise.
The City Region Deal investment will enable a step-change in the scale and impact of agritech in teaching, research and innovation outputs.
'This is a very exciting time for agriscience, with transformative technology and data sharing opening up new approaches for fair and inclusive growth,' said Professor Bruce Whitelaw, interim director of the Roslin Institute.
'The City Region Deal will drive an innovation pipeline nucleated from Easter Bush here in Midlothian, with reach both across our country and internationally, all built around novel research fuelling a step change in upskilling, talent development and enterprise activities.'