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UK: New agri-engineering research collaboration to boost food innovation

A new partnership has been announced between Growing Kent & Medway and Canterbury Christ Church University to connect horticultural and food and drink businesses with agri-technology specialists.

The development of the Industrial Agri-Engineering Hub at the University will complement and enhance Growing Kent & Medway’s existing activities for business-led research and innovation in the horticultural and food and drink sector.

This new collaboration brings together all of Kent’s research institutes to provide a comprehensive range of scientific expertise and capabilities for businesses, boosting growth in this critical sector for the UK.

The Industrial Agri-Engineering Hub will draw upon the University’s strengths and resources, providing academic expertise in agri-engineering, automation and manufacturing, assistive technologies, and applied data analysis and intelligence.

The Hub is based at Canterbury Christ Church University’s multi-million-pound Verena Holmes Building, one of the largest STEM buildings in the southeast. Businesses will be able to access the University’s specialist facilities and cutting-edge technology, supporting Growing Kent & Medway’s ambition for Kent and Medway to become a world-leading region in research and innovation for horticultural production, food processing, and climate-smart farming technologies.

Mario Caccamo, CEO of NIAB, lead partner for Growing Kent & Medway, said: “The collaborative partnership between Canterbury Christ Church University and Growing Kent & Medway will support a step-change in the impact agri-technology has on our sustainable food production systems. Their expertise and facilities will help us strengthen crop production management systems and production automation in our food supply chains.”

“By connecting the horticultural industry together with their leading knowledge of sensor technology, advanced manufacturing, and automation, we have an incredible opportunity to transform our fragile production systems, making them more resilient to the impact of climate change, labor shortages, and energy crises.”

Professor Rama Thirunamachandran DL OBE, Vice-Chancellor and Principal, said: “I am delighted that Canterbury Christ Church University is entering into a partnership with Growing Kent and Medway, a consortium dedicated to strengthening the region’s horticulture, food, and drink industries through research, innovation, and enterprise. The University is a strong contributor to the region’s economy in terms of the opportunities we have to link with business.

“Our EDGE (Engineering, Design, Growth, and Enterprise) Hub, developed in partnership with industry, provides a strong platform for the stimulation of new skills and innovation for business, and our Verena Holmes STEM Building provides a state-of-the-art facility for experimentation, research, and collaboration. The partnership also aligns with our commitment to pursue social justice through sustainability and reflects our values to use inclusive education and research to support our communities.”

Further information about the Industrial Agri-Engineering Hub can be found on the Growing Kent & Medway website. Visitors to Fruit Focus 2023 will have the opportunity to learn more about the Hub at the Fruit Research Innovation Hub, stand 700. Fruit Focus takes place on 12th July at East Malling.

For more information:
Growing Kent & Medway

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