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Five leading universities across England have joined forces to launch the Ceres Agritech Knowledge Exchange Partnership to drive commercialisation of agritech research and innovation. The partnership has been awarded £4.78 million by Research England’s Connecting Capability Fund.

The Ceres Partnership links the universities of Cambridge, East Anglia, Hertfordshire, Lincoln and Reading, as well as the John Innes Centre, NIAB and Rothamsted Research, in order to enable effective sharing of commercialisation expertise, a key aim of Research England’s Connecting Capability Fund.

Ceres will work with business partners to identify, build, invest in and run the most commercially viable development projects focussed on the innovation needs of the agritech sector. The result will be technologies that can be exploited through licences, start-up companies and partnerships with SMEs and large agritech corporations.

In addition to Research England’s award, Ceres has also secured funding commitments of over £15 million from corporates and technology investors for further investment in high quality commercial opportunities.

Iain Thomas, Head of Life Sciences, Cambridge Enterprise, said: “The time is ripe for catalysing early stage technology transfer in the globally critical agritech sector.  Advances in nutrition, genomics, informatics, artificial intelligence, remote sensing, automation and plant sciences have huge potential in precision agriculture and food production. Farmers, food processors and producers are eager to explore and adopt new technologies to improve their competitiveness and efficiency.

“Cambridge University wants to play a significant part in the successful development of an agritech cluster. The Ceres Agritech Knowledge Exchange Partnership builds on models of collaboration, technology acceleration and effective commercial demonstration of proof-of-concept from other technology sectors, such as the pharma-biotech cluster currently flourishing in the Cambridge region. Ceres will supply commercial insight, provide funding and industrial quality project design and delivery capacity.”

The Ceres funding is part of an investment of £67 million through Research England’s Connecting Capability Fund in new collaborative projects to drive forward world-class university commercialisation across the country.

Photo: Rapeseed, University of Cambridge Farm, with Cambridge Enterprise offices behind.