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A collaboration bringing together the expertise of the UK space and agricultural sectors is preparing for launch.

Sonia Pietosi
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The Satellite Applications Catapult and Harper Adams University have been working on an exciting new initiative, the Agri Living Lab, which aims to use satellite technology to revolutionise the agri-food supply chain. The collaboration brings together expertise from the UK Space and Agricultural sectors to create an accessible and inclusive ecosystem to explore and develop enabling technologies.

The ‘Agri Living Lab’, which will be fully launched later this year, will have facilities for testing, training and demonstrating tech at both the Satellite Application Catapult’s site in Westcott, Buckinghamshire and the Harper Adams University campus in Shropshire.

The vision for the Agri Living Lab is to transform the use of terrestrial and space data and communication systems across the agriculture and food and drink sector. The Agri Living Lab network will bring together stakeholders from across the whole supply chain to create an ecosystem where innovation, knowledge exchange and practical real-world solutions can be taken from concept through to market.

Parmjit Chima, Head of Engineering Department at Harper Adams University, said “The ethos of a Living Lab is that it brings people together in a neutral environment where knowledge exchange, research and product development can take place. It also creates an excellent environment for partnership building, upskilling, and learning about new enabling technologies for the sector.

“We are very excited to be part of this initiative. It will create huge opportunities for both the space and agricultural sectors in the UK to develop new product and service solutions. This partnership will bring together two key sectors that are at the forefront of ensuring targets are met for increasing food production, for an ever-growing population, whilst reducing emissions and reaching net zero by 2050. As connectivity infrastructure is being rolled-out across the rural landscape, smart enabling technologies can be used to address these needs. The Agri Living Lab will give innovators, tech companies, academia and industry the chance to come together to explore, develop and take to market solutions to address our current sector challenges and, indeed, opportunities.”

The initial collaboration between Satellite Applications Catapult and Harper Adams University will be followed by the development of a wider network of Agri Living Labs nationwide. This collaboration will support the UK to become a global leader in satellite-enabled connectivity-for agriculture and supply chain research, products and services.

Sonia Pietosi, Business Development Lead for Agriculture at Satellite Applications Catapult said: “We are really excited about the Agri Living Lab and the impact it will have on the agri-food sector. The UK has world leading skills and expertise in agriculture. Our Agri-Tech Innovation Centres, renowned academic institutions and dynamic industry are leading the world in developing new technologies. The Agri Living Lab is creating a connected ecosystem to harness this expertise, and combine it with space, digital and robotics. It will create opportunities for innovation and rapid scale up of businesses to bring new solutions into the agri-food system.

“The Agri Living Lab will provide access to physical buildings and real-world test environments across the UK. Innovations can be designed, prototyped and tested, demonstrating benefits, and helping businesses in their route to market so their solutions can be fully realised.”