The fourth and final Innovation Centre to be established under the government’s AgriTech strategy has now been officially launched.
The Centre for Crop Health and Protection (CHAP) has £21.3 million of government funding over the next four years, after which it is expected to be self-funding. The Centre, based at the National Agri-Food Innovation campus (the former Central Science Laboratory) at Sand Hutton near York, is a collaboration between academic bodies and industry.
CHAP is designed to combine the expertise, knowledge and insight from the leading research organisations and companies in the arable sector to help in solving the challenges facing world agriculture. It intends to deliver farmers access to the best and most sustainable technologies, strategies and protocols to improve the performance of their crops and help their businesses at the farm gate.
Partners in the CHAP consortium include: Bayer CropScience; Dow AgroSciences; Farmcare (the corporate farming business now owned by the Wellcome Trust); Frontier Agriculture; Stockbridge Technology , Tesco and Unilever. The academic and research input comes from ADAS; AHDB; CABI; Campden BRI; Cranfield University; FERA Science; Newcastle University; Rothamsted Research; The Met Office andWarwick University. The Centre says it will enable these organisations to share resources; optimise return on research and development costs; reduce waste and accelerate the registration process for new products, working with the whole agrifood chain from agronomists through processors and manufacturers to retailers and the consumer.
Dr Andrew Swift is managing the Centre as interim chief executive until a new management team is recruited and installed. He is a director of the Capita Science Division, the majority owner of FERA and its Sand Hutton facility. Dr Swift led the bid for and implementation programme for CHAP.
“CHAP will establish the UK as a world-leader in agri-technology, innovation and sustainability,” says Dr Swift. “It will create an environment that encourages the exchange of leading edge knowledge, resulting in greater innovation and wider access to the best available technologies and solutions. By taking science to the farm, CHAP will help farmers, growers and the food industry to improve yield, reduce costs and meet the need for sustainable solutions to present and future challenges.”