Rothamsted Research has drawn down European Union (EU) funding, which will kick-start a new programme of agricultural innovation at the renowned centre for crop science.

The new programme aims to accelerate the development of promising ideas into practical tools for other economic sectors by bringing together researchers and small businesses to work on collaborative projects as start-up enterprises.

Up to 25 “short-leap” projects over the next three years will cover four themes:

  • Soils, Water and Environment;
  • Internet of Things;
  • High-Value Products; and
  • Sustainable and Green Products.

The venture is backed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), with the support of the Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership.

“The projects will use the lean technologies practised by start-ups,” said Angela Karp, director for science innovation, engagement and partnerships at Rothamsted Research - which is leading the new venture as part of the institute’s Agricultural Research and Innovation Accelerator (AgRIA).

AgRIA is founded on a dynamic model developed at the institute to accelerate innovations arising from our strategic research programmes,” said Karp.

Rothamsted is also a founding member of three of the UK’s four agri-tech centres of excellence and innovation: Agrimetrics, Crop Health & Protection and the Centre for Innovation Excellence in Livestock. It is also a partner in the Ceres Agri-Tech Knowledge Exchange Partnership, announced in April.

Tim Burton, ERDF projects facilitator at Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership, said the project had the potential to fuel businesses innovation across a broad spectrum of industries.

“AgRIA is a fantastic addition to the Hertfordshire Growth Package, our EU-funded portfolio of specialist business support programmes designed to help SMEs prosper and grow," he added.