It is the sheer complexity of the agri-food value chain that has so far delayed its transformation by the digital revolution, but now the landscape is changing, according to David Flanders, CEO of Agrimetrics, the big data centre of excellence for the agri-food industry. The organisation is fusing real world data collected in the field with big data sets from industry, research institutes and public bodies. Agrimetrics is also creating tools that allow non-specialists to visualise the results. This is attracting significant industry interest and to gear up for the challenge it is announcing two new appointments to its Board.
David Flanders comments: “I am delighted to welcome to the Board Dr Belinda Clarke, internationally recognised for her work in facilitating the development of the UK agri-tech cluster, and Dr Chris Winter who, as managing partner of Brightstar Innovations and partner of New Venture Partners, has significant international R&D, venture capital and corporate VC experience of spinning high-tech companies out of R&D labs.
“Digital is a big disrupter that is driving innovation across many industry sectors, and Agrimetrics is facilitating this within agri-food,” he continues. “We have recently launched our Data Platform, which allows data held in different places to be linked and analysed in new ways, and this is a major breakthrough for the industry.
“We are also developing tools such as dashboards which make it possible for non-specialists to more easily visualise and gain insights from data drawn from across the value chain.
“For the first time this is putting objective information into the hands of decision makers, creating opportunities for them to understand more clearly how to improve performance at all levels and to increase productivity and profitability.”
Flanders sees an important role for the new Board members in helping take Agrimetrics to the next stage in its development.
Flanders continues: “Chris has worked with many high tech ventures helping them to transition from being academic led to commercially focused, so he joins us at a critical time.”
Winter comments: “The UK has considerable untapped data assets in soils, meteorology, crop science, animal production and nutrition. By creating a platform and developing tools, Agrimetrics is unlocking the potential of big data for the agri-food value chain. I am delighted to be involved at this exciting phase in its development.”
Dr Belinda Clarke is director for Agri-Tech East and is able to provide Agrimetrics with an industry viewpoint. Flanders continues: “Belinda is incredibly well networked and has an in depth knowledge of agri-food production and its challenges, also of emerging science and technology. Her involvement will enable us to reach and better understand the needs of partners.”
Clarke comments: “Creating actionable insights from data is the big challenge and there is a lack of good metrics and tools for visualising the information. Agrimetrics has an important role to play in making relevant datasets more accessible particularly to farmers and smaller device developers to help make the UK agri-tech sector internationally competitive.”
Agrimetrics is developing a big data platform and tools to increase productivity in the agri-food industry. By working closely with specialists from NIAB, Rothamsted Research, Scotland’s Rural College and the University of Reading, and securing clients at all stages of the value chain, Agrimetrics is supporting the creation of metrics that are based on good science and accepted by industry.