Six-figure funding pot for winning innovators will transform agriculture.

12 teams pitched for a share of £100,000 of Welsh Government funding on St. David’s Day, as Menai Science Park (M-SParc) hosted its first Agri Hack.

The cutting-edge innovations that will be created by the winners of a St. David’s Day Agri-Hack have the potential to completely change the way we think about agriculture, the event organisers say.

12 teams from across the United Kingdom pitched artificial-intelligence-based solutions to real-world problems faced by the agricultural sector in the event, hosted by M-SParc in partnership with Welsh Government, the Enterprise Hub and Be the Spark.

Sean Smith’s Micron Agri will be using artificial intelligence to detect parasites in sheep faeces; early identification of parasites allows a farmer to treat a flock, and absence of parasites means the farmer can avoid unnecessarily dosing of the sheep.

The project is to be developed at M-SParc, setting up a Welsh officer and providing the company with research links at Bangor University, who have already identified researchers who may support the project. They aim to create at least one career in the next few months, based in north Wales.

Geraint Hughes’ Dewin Dwr will develop a commercial solution for monitoring and managing water in the natural ecosystem; this is important for farmers, who currently must carefully mange treatment of their fields to avoid polluting water courses.

By utilising sensor networks combined with artificial intelligence, Dewin will offer a high-tech solution for solving a common and persistent issue. Dewin also hope to work with another company that pitched in the hack aiming to develop a Computer Vision system to identify cows who are about to calve or who are injured.

Following the event, Menai Science Park Managing Director Pryderi ap Rhisiart and member of the Hack’s judging panel said:

“We’ve hosted many Hacks here at M-SParc over the years, and the passion for developing innovative solutions to real problems in a variety of sectors becomes more and more inspiring with every event.

“What we saw in the Agri Hack were a range of solutions pitched to the problems faced that could truly transform agriculture for the better, with Wales leading the way. I'm eager now to see the ideas developed further and leading to economic growth in the region and that's the shared ambition of the project partners including Welsh Government, Be the Spark and the Enterprise Hub.”

Deputy Minister for Economy and Transport, Lee Waters, said:

“The future of agriculture is loaded with opportunities for innovation and technology, and we can embrace and lead the way on these right here in Wales. It’s great to see the different ideas that have been produced for this event which show how digital and tech developments can bring real value to the industry and our farming communities.”

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