On Tuesday 7th November, Midlothian Science Zone Business Forum attendees gathered for a networking lunch at Agri-EPI Centre's Northern Innovation Hub on the University of Edinburgh's Easter Bush Campus.
Matthew Watters, Head of Operations, welcomed participants and introduced CEO Dave Ross who provided an overview of the structure of the Agri-EPI Centres and the satellite farms that form a network of commercial operations spanning the UK and covering all major agricultural commodities.
Agri-EPI Centre (Agricultural Engineering Precision Innovation Centre) is one of four Agri-Tech centres, established by the UK government, that specialise in connecting knowledgeable experts and new solutions across the livestock, crops, horticulture, and aquaculture sectors. They work together to deliver profitable and sustainable cutting-edge technologies to market and to empower more sustainable farming.
As an independent partner for agri-tech developers, from start-ups through to established companies, Agri-EPI works closely with CIEL (Centre for Innovation Excellence in Livestock) and CHAP (Crop Health and Protection) and a national network of businesses, educational establishments privately owned farms and international partnerships with development facilities and overseas markets targeted for the future.
Through this established network of industry partners, including several 'in the zone' (SRUC, SAC, Moredun Research Institute and the University of Edinburgh), together they can create scientifically robust and commercially viable agricultural solutions.
We were introduced to three of the innovative businesses located within the Northern Hub and heard how technology and Agri-EPI expertise has helped their business advance.
Thomas Farrugia, CEO and Founder of Beta Bugs Ltd, described the start-up's journey and expansion, now employing a strong team of twelve. Recent investment has allowed the company to scale-up production, sale and supply of its Black Soldier Fly eggs and larvae to the insect farming sector, as a sustainable alternative to current sources of protein for animal feed. Black Soldier Fly can be reared on various waste streams, including agricultural and commercial food waste providing a greener, circular and regionally produced alternative by diverting waste for its ground-breaking breeding programme.
Alex Leman, Bioprocess Engineer for Rhizocore Technologies, spoke about the company's sustainable solution to accelerate woodland regeneration by producing locally-adapted mycorrhizal fungi to benefit yield and disease resistant tree growth by working with the ecosystem. The company has plans to expand into overseas markets to avoid seasonality as currently their work is autumn heavy in the Northern Hemisphere.
David Hall, Project Enginner with Innovent Technology explained how pioneering precision livestock technologies can be used to improve efficiency and profitability whilst enhancing the health and welfare of animals. Using remote cameras, they work with farmers to track daily growth rate for indoor reared pigs and this tracking can identify reasons for change in growth rates and in turn efficiency. Ultimately overcoming the restrictions of wool and feathers in tracking animals
Following the presentations, the group were taken on a tour of the Northern Hub and viewed some of the equipment including a hyperspectral imaging camera, a novel technology and one of the most powerful and rapidly growing methods of non-destructive food quality analysis and control. We also visited the offices and labs and were able to observe some of the teams at work, including the production of Rhizopellets!
This Forum continued our theme to showcase core facilities and expertise in the zone. The presentations and tour showcased the wealth of agri-business support, services and facilities offered by Agri-EPI Centre - in the zone and beyond.
Agri-EPI Centre is open to new collaborations with commercial organisations and researchers as well as tech providers of technologies that could potentially be applied to benefit the sector, and operate a Membership network to facilitate connections and Think Tanks.
Please contact Agri-EPI Centre if you would like to find out more or explore partnering on projects.
The purpose of MSZ Business Forum is to create an opportunity for discussion, collaboration and awareness of other businesses 'in the zone'. The next event will be held in February 2024, and details will be announced once content and host venue is confirmed - and as always there will be time for networking.
To be kept informed of forthcoming events or opportunities for collaboration, please contact Emma McCallum, Project Coordinator.
Agri-EPI Centre, Northern Agri-Tech Innovation Hub
- Easter Bush Campus
- Midlothian, EH25 9RG
Director of Business Development: Rose Judeh-Elwell
T: +44 (0) 131 239 7100
Easter Bush Campus
- The University of Edinburgh
- Midlothian, EH25 9RG
Campus Operating Officer: Val White
T: +44 (0)131 651 9180
Midlothian Science Zone
- Roslin Innovation Centre
- The University of Edinburgh, Easter Bush Campus
- Midlothian, EH25 9RG, Scotland
Project Co-ordinator: Emma McCallum
T: +44 (0)131 651 9000
- 8 Lothian Road
- EH22 1DN
Business Growth Adviser: Robbie Broomfield
T: 0131 516 4953