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article imageNew plan to coordinate European agtech

By Tim Sandle     Jul 27, 2018 in Business
Waterford - The Waterford Institute of Technology is to become the coordinator for a €20 million EU-wide SmartAgriHubs project, representing the Irish Republic and the U.K. The institute will act as one of nine new clusters for agriculture technology.
The new initiative was launched in July 2018 by the EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Phil Hogan. Hogan stated that the Waterford Institute of Technology is to become the first of nine regional clusters.
The Waterford Institute of Technology has been developing ‘smart’ agtech (or 'agritech') through its Telecommunications Software and Systems Group research center over several years, and has been recognized as a strong pioneer in the field.
A major driver for agtech is to address fundamental problems of food supply. For Europe, this is based around the concern of meeting the world’s food needs whilst also protecting the environment. This is in the context of predicted rises in population and in the face of climate change.
Each cluster will function as a ‘one-stop-shop’ to support over two million farmers working throughout the European Union. The objective is to make it easier for the developing agtech sector and farmers (or the ‘agri-food industry’) to access the latest agriculture related research and supports.
Quoted by Agriland, EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Phil Hogan stated: “The European Commission has recognised that we need to ramp up our efforts in relation to agri-innovation, if we want to maintain our competitive advantage in this century.”
With the new UK and Ireland cluster, this will become a base to enable farmers, advisors, agtech firms, including startups, to develop solutions and plan strategies for the implementation of new technologies across Europe.
The nine clusters are supported to the tune of 20 million euros. The SmartAgriHubs will come together to form a pan-European network of Digital Innovation Hubs (also dubbed, in Euro-speak, ‘Centres of Competence’), supporting each of the 28 European Union member states. The nine hubs will be organized along regional lines.
With the UK and Irish venture, funding has been set aside to develop innovative agricultural projects. Here three-quarters of the funding will be used to employ subject matter experts and a proportion of the remainder will be offered to partners to support new projects.
Projects will be advertised by ‘open call’ allowing startups to bid for work or to put new ideas forwards.
More about agtech, agritech, Agriculture, Farmers
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