29 Mar 2018
Eight entrepreneurs gathered to learn and share experiences at the Royal Agricultural University’s (RAU) agritech incubation hub, Farm491, for its first bootcamp aimed at generating innovative business ideas for the sector.
Delegates praised the Inspiring AgriTech Innovation (IAI) bootcamp at Farm491’s Trent Lodge site in Cirencester, which allowed them re-evaluate ideas, channel their focus and ambition and make valuable contacts.
The IAI programme, co-funded by RAU and European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), concentrates on a series of free sessions to facilitate the development of a new wave of agritech entrepreneurs. Aspiring individuals, early stage start-ups and SMEs are all invited to register interest for the sessions to gain valuable learning and support from industry experts. After submitting business proposals, applicants are assessed and selected for the mentoring initiative which helps get their business off the ground and scaled for success.
Sharon Smith, of Horse Logic, joined the bootcamp to take some time away from day to day issues and review her business proposition. She said she left the sessions ‘better equipped to get through a difficult transition period.’
Alex Stephens, founder of Agri International, said: “Returning home and looking back over the last two days, the bootcamp has completely re-structured my thinking, given me a better outlook on innovation and refreshed me as an entrepreneur.”
Another delegate Guy Middleton said: “I would 110% recommend this for anyone with an idea they want to get off the ground. After the two days I left the conference full of confidence and understanding of where to start and where to turn next with my idea.”
The IAI start-up bootcamp, between 15-16 March, was structured around a flow of interactive seminars and workshops. After introductions from Farm491 Programme Manager, Ali Hadavizadeh, Dr Hugh Martin (Principal Lecturer in Agricultural Science at Royal Agricultural University) began the day with ‘What is agritech and why is it important?’.
Dr Karen Rial-Lovera (Lecturer in Agricultural Engineering at RAU) addressed global trends in agritech before Rod Horrocks (University of Gloucestershire) discussed motivation and ideation, sharing guidance on how to think entrepreneurially.
Delegates presented their business propositions back to the group, touching on motivation, impact and sustainability. In a later session Rod also looked at the value proposition and being an innovator, how to size the market, seek an opportunity and identify beneficiaries, customers and stakeholders.
Gavin Allen, founder of Glideology, which helps entrepreneurs, academics and agritech businesses to understand technology (and is a Farm491 service provider) shared lessons learned on his own journey.
Topics covered on day two included management, leadership and metrics, business structures and finance fundamentals.
Guest speaker was Dr David Bozward, Principle Lecturer in Entrepreneurship at the RAU. During the final session of the program Ali Hadavizadeh and Matt Penneycard, Farm491 Investor in Resident, jointly presented options on company structures, funding routes and types of support available from Farm491. Delegates concluded the bootcamp with short presentations back to the group.
Ali Hadavizadeh, Farm491 Programme Manager concluded: “We had a total of eight entrepreneurs with a diverse range of ideas attending and at the end they went away feeling challenged and energised in their resolve to progress their ideas to a long term sustainable business. My thanks and congratulations to all the participants as well as contributors.”
Farm491 has already received applications from more talented entrepreneurs, all signed up for the second bootcamp, scheduled to take place on 10 and 11 May. The hub is still eager to take fresh applications so potential candidates with an agritech idea should be encouraged to register now.