New source of free innovation support for businesses in the Marches

Developing new agricultural drone technology
Developing new agricultural drone technology

23 October 2017

  • New source of free innovation support for businesses in the Marches
  • Universities expertise will advise agri-tech, food and drink manufacturers and specialist logistics companies
  • Workshops planned to provide technical information and chance to network

Aston and Harper Adams universities have launched a joint project to help support businesses with new products or processes in the agri-tech and food and drink manufacturing sectors.

Agri-tech Growth and Resources for Innovation – known as AGRI – is funded by the European Regional Development Fund and aims to connect companies in the Marches region with innovation-focused academics at the two universities.

Project director Professor David Webb of Aston University, said: “The AGRI project is an exciting opportunity for businesses in the region to directly benefit from the expertise and technology at Aston and Harper Adams universities. This support will help them in developing new, innovative products and services, enabling them to make their business more competitive and increase opportunities for growth.”

Aston University in Birmingham is providing expertise in the fields of photonics and lasers, logistics and supply chain management, sensing, wireless networks, systems analytics and geographical information systems.

Harper Adams University in Newport, Shropshire is providing expertise in agricultural engineering, precision agriculture, sensing and data analytics, robotics and automation, new food product development (NPD) and waste technologies. 

A key feature of the scheme is that all assistance is free of charge to the business concerned. Following an initial discussion of opportunities and challenges being faced by the company, the first phase consists of a short study of around two days outlining potential solutions. 

Should the company wish to further develop the solutions, the universities can provide longer-term assistance, utilising their technical resources and expertise to develop a prototype or new process.

In addition to supporting companies already operating in the agri-tech sector, the project is keen to assist those who may wish to move into that sector. As well as providing technical help, the scheme can also provide advice and assistance in accessing more substantial innovation funding, such as from Innovate UK or the European Union’s Horizon 2020 scheme.

A series of workshops gets underway this month to disseminate technical information and provide networking opportunities. The first workshop is on Tuesday 31 October and there will be another on Wednesday 6 December.

For more information, including whether AGRI can help your business flourish, visit the website or email to arrange a discussion with an innovation support manager. You can stay up-to-date with AGRI by following it on twitter @agritechsupport


Notes to the editor

Founded in 1895 and a University since 1966, Aston is a long established research-led university known for its world-class teaching quality, and strong links to business and the professions. Aston University is located in Birmingham and at the heart of a vibrant city and the campus houses all the university’s academic, social and accommodation facilities for our students.  Professor Alec Cameron is the Vice Chancellor & Chief Executive.

Aston has been a leading university for graduate employment success for over 25 years and our students do extremely well in securing top jobs and careers.  Our strong relationships with industry partners mean we understand the needs of employers, which is why we are also ranked in the top 20 for graduate employability.

For more information, call Martin Grant, AGRI project manager on 0121 204 4652 or email

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