Space_Satellite_NASASpace technology is increasingly being used to boost food production to meet the growing demands of a world’s population predicted to reach more than nine billion by 2050. To feed this bigger population, global food production will need to increase by 70% compared with today.

And food producers across the UK are being urged to play their part by joining forces with British space industry experts and other industry leaders to develop projects using space technology that might lead to more efficient ways of producing food.

Multi-million pound funding from both the UK and Europe is available for companies to work jointly on projects that have the potential to deliver savings and efficiencies in farming and food productivity involving satellite-based systems.

The business-led ‘Satellites for Agri-Food’ consortia-building event in London on 7 October will bring together business, entrepreneurs, thought leaders and funders to address challenges facing the food and agriculture sectors, and assess what satellites can do to help. Hosted by the Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN), it is open to all companies involved in the food, agriculture and space industries.

A key element of the free-to-attend event will be to make new connections that could lead to collaborative projects. It will also introduce a new Innovate UK and NERC funding competition worth up to £3.75 million, alongside grants of £18 million (€25 million) available through the European Horizon 2020 agriculture programme.

“Space technology is already used to monitor crops and livestock with pinpoint accuracy, optimize food transport and stocks, and improve operations by providing seamless communications,” says Dr Andy Powell from the KTN space team. “Rising populations, reduced resources and climate change mean the food and agriculture sectors need to operate more efficiently than ever

Simon Baty, KTN’s knowledge transfer manager the food and industrial biosciences sectors, says the food processing, manufacturing and retail industries can also benefit from more resilient and stronger supply chains built on mutually beneficial priorities and collaborations

“Satellites have the potential to revolutionize these vital sectors, helping producers and retailers alike provide enough quality food for people,” he adds. “Our goal at ‘Satellites for Agri-Food’ is for everyone to make new connections and create innovations. Ultimately this will be great for all three industries — space, agriculture and food — as well as the UK’s economy.”

More than 150 delegates are expected to attend the one-day event that aims to open the door to future collaborations and offer each industry sector the opportunity to learn from the other. It is being held at the Congress Centre, 28 Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3LS.

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