Hartpury has been allocated £1.25 million in Government funding to help create a Digital Innovation Farm, to further enhance Gloucestershire’s position as a leader in agri-tech.
It follows a successful bid by Gloucestershire’s Local Enterprise Partnership, GFirst LEP, to the Government’s nationwide Getting Building Fund.
The Digital Innovation Farm will include the National Centre for Agricultural Data Management and Interpretation, to assist the industry in its advancement of agricultural technology, data and security, from Hartpury’s 360-hectare campus near Gloucester.
It will create new innovation and demonstration workspace for high-growth SMEs in the growth phase already operating within the agri-tech sector, to explore, test, trial, research and develop products, or enhance existing ones.
The Digital Innovation Farm forms part of an exciting 10-year vision at Hartpury, which is already under way with the construction of a £2 million Agri-Tech Centre.
Officially opened earlier this year by NFU President Minette Batters, the Agri-Tech Centre provides farmers, students and organisations with access to the latest commercial technology.
Russell Marchant, Vice-Chancellor and CEO of Hartpury University and Principal of Hartpury College, said: “Our plans highlight the scale of our commitment and our ambition to be leaders in shaping the future of digital farming in the UK and beyond.
“Our aim is that, by 2030, the Digital Innovation Farm will have expanded and grown into a state-of-the-art complex at Hartpury attracting leading agri-tech companies and contributing to increased productivity in Gloucestershire and the UK.”
GFirst LEP worked closely with public, private and voluntary sectors to submit bids to the Getting Building Fund that were ‘shovel ready’, would create jobs, aid recovery and support the green agenda.
The Digital Innovation Farm at Hartpury, for which initial plans were announced in August, was identified by GFirst LEP as among five key infrastructure projects to receive funding within Gloucestershire.
GFirst LEP’s Chief Executive David Owen said: “In these challenging times, this is welcome news for the county’s economy.
“The LEP team have worked hard with partners to ensure our pipeline of creative and innovative infrastructure projects is always up to date.
“The list of projects that we are now able to fund focus heavily on the cyber, digital and agri-tech sectors, sectors that were identified in our Local Industrial Strategy as the top growth opportunities in the county.”
GFirst LEP’s Chair Dr Diane Savory OBE said: “During this time of economic uncertainty I am really pleased that these projects have been given the green light to get shovels in the ground.
“These projects will give Gloucestershire’s businesses and young people greater opportunities to access the very best type of tailored support that is needed now more than ever.”
Picture: The design for the Digital Innovation Farm at Hartpury