New research partnership set to advance sustainable food production
21st June 2023
Growing Kent & Medway and Canterbury Christ Church University are joining forces in a new collaborative partnership aimed at connecting horticultural and food and drink businesses with agri-technology specialists to drive research and innovation in the sector.
The collaboration will bring together all of Kent’s research institutes to provide multi-disciplinary scientific expertise and capabilities for businesses, complemented by the development of a new Industrial Agri-Engineering Hub at the university.
The Hub is based at the university’s multi-million-pound Verena Holmes Building and will draw upon the institute’s strengths and resources, providing academic expertise in agri-engineering, automation and manufacturing, assistive technologies and applied data analysis and intelligence.
Commenting on the partnership, Mario Caccamo, CEO of NIAB and lead partner for Growing Kent & Medway (GKM), said: “The collaborative partnership between Canterbury Christ Church University and Growing Kent & Medway will support a step-change in the impact agri-technology has on our sustainable food production systems.
“Their expertise and state-of-the-art facilities will help us to strengthen crop production management systems and the automation of production in our food supply chains.”
“By connecting the horticultural industry together with their leading knowledge of sensor technology, advanced manufacturing, and automation, we have an incredible opportunity to transform our fragile production systems, making them more resilient to the impact of climate change, labour shortages and energy crises.”
Professor Rama Thirunamachandran DL OBE, vice-chancellor and principal at the university, also welcomed the announcement: “I am delighted that Canterbury Christ Church University is entering into a partnership with Growing Kent and Medway, a consortium dedicated to strengthening the region’s horticulture, food and drink industries through research, innovation and enterprise.”
The professor went on to highlight the university’s state-of-the-art facilities, the EDGE (Engineering, Design, Growth and Enterprise) Hub and the Verena Holmes STEM Building, which will play a pivotal role in driving business-led research and innovation in the food sector.
“The partnership also aligns with our commitment to purse social justice, through sustainability, and reflects our values to use inclusive education and research to support our communities,” the professor concluded.
Through the Industrial Agri-Engineering Hub, businesses will be able to access the university’s specialist facilities and cutting-edge technology, supporting GKM’s ambition for Kent and Medway to become a world-leading region in research and innovation for horticultural production, food processing, and climate-smart farming technologies.
Other than stimulating innovative ideas and projects for commercial application in the agri-food sector Dr Nikki Harrison, programme director for GKM, remarked the new facility will also help strengthen the consortium’s regional offering and attract international businesses and scientists to collaborate in the UK.
For more information about the new Industrial Agri-Engineering Hub, visit the GKM website.
Visitors to Fruit Focus 2023 will have the opportunity to find out more about the Hub at the Fruit Research Innovation Hub, stand 700. Fruit Focus takes place on 12th July at East Malling.