Innovation Agri-Tech Group (IAG), a London-based agtech company, has announced that it is further consolidating its partnership with the University of Essex, with the university securing funding of £1 million (approximately 1.1 million euros) from the independent Wolfson Foundation. granting charity.
The fund will allow the university to support the development of an indoor crop growth facility, called the Smart Technology Experimental Plant Suite (STEPS), on Essex’s Colchester campus, to ensure production of crops at the test of time for a growing world population.
The £3.5million facility will be open by summer 2023 and will include four unique environmental growth rooms.
As part of the partnership, IAG will install its patented modular system, GrowFrame, into the facility. The system uses aeroponic irrigation and closed-loop water recycling to deliver pesticide-free water and particular nutrients to grow plants in a fully automated and adjustable environment.
The GrowFrame, which will be part of a more comprehensive advanced technology system, will include artificial intelligence (AI), environmental sensors and water management systems.
According to Innovation Agri-Tech Group, the University of Essex will have a facility for extensive education, UK outreach, research, experimentation and knowledge transfer for the actual application of CEA ( Controlled Environment Agriculture).
The project is led by renowned plant physiologist and key member of the IAG Advisory Board, Professor Tracy Lawson of the Essex School of Life Sciences.
Lawson says, “We are delighted to have received this funding from the Wolfson Foundation. This unique facility will build on our leading strengths in plant productivity research and allow us to leverage the latest technologies to improve key plant processes.
She adds: “It will elevate our interdisciplinary research and work with business stakeholders to address some of the key challenges in agriculture and horticulture. STEPS will also provide a unique platform for community engagement and outreach to increase the visibility of plant science research and highlight global challenges in this field.
Agri-Tech Innovation Group: What you need to know
British company agtech provides cutting-edge solutions to traditional farming challenges, specializing in indoor vertical aeroponics. Indoor farming uses up to 95% less water than conventional farming and 70% less water than hydroponics, the company claims.
Agri-Tech Innovation Group can create urban food production, reduce food miles and provide the opportunity to deliver fresh, clean and nutritious food closer to the consumer.
Kate Brunswick, Director of Business Development, says, “The Wolfson Foundation’s investment and funding in STEPS is a fantastic time for the entire vertical farming industry. We know the world’s population is growing – and we predict it will continue to do so rapidly. Traditional methods of agriculture and food production are not enough. The ability to provide nutritionally adequate foods will continue to be a global challenge as demand increases.
She adds: “Since 2017, Innovation Agri-Tech Group’s mission has been to provide a cost-effective solution that can be used globally. Growing food to help feed growing populations – especially in urban spaces or where arable farming is depleting land due to overuse. Together with Professor Tracy Lawson and her team at the University of Essex, we are confident that our technology will help pave the way for sustainable food security and building climate resilience. It is an extremely exciting project to participate in and which is personally close to our goals.
The Wolfson Foundation: what you need to know
The Wolfson Foundation is an independent charitable organization focused on research and education. The platform aims to support civil society by investing in science, health, heritage, humanities and arts projects.
Paul Ramsbottom, Managing Director of the Wolfson Foundation, said: “New and improved farming methods will be key to solving some of the great challenges of the 21st century, including global food security, especially in the context of climate change. The University of Essex has an impressive track record in crop science, and we are delighted to support these experimental facilities. We hope they will help make important breakthroughs in sustainable food production.
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