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Bristol & Bath have a growing network of innovative food and drink companies, and a strong collaborative environment between businesses, academics, and research and development (R&D) institutions.

The Food Security and Search Alliance, which is also based here complements these growing networks. This organisation works across disciplines and collaborates with institutions with a strong background in relevant areas of research. It also maintains funding relationships with research councils, government departments, and the private sector. The economic successes driven by innovation suggest that Bristol & Bath’s food and drink sector will be at the forefront globally in the coming years.

There are over 4,800 higher education students and more than 600 sector-specific academics working on agricultural studies in the region.

Our region is rapidly growing

£ 1.9 bn Contributed to the national GVA in 2020 from the South West food and drink sector
£ 845 m West of England Agriculture contributed £845m to local GVA
£ 800 m Food and drink exports totalled £800m from the South West region (Santander 2021)
32 % 32% of Europe’s agri-food tech funding went to UK businesses in 2019
£ 4.9 bn The regional food & drink sector enjoyed a £4.9bn private sector investment in 2018

Who's here?

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The region is home to two internationally-renowned agricultural institutions: the Royal Agricultural University and Hartpury University. It’s also home to the Rural Enterprise Centre, which is integral to the region’s educational and business growth. Once refurbishments to this centre are completed, it will be the ideal venue for businesses and academics. The centre will feature a conference and seminar area, as well as modern test kitchens and office space for agri-food-related businesses. It will offer a valuable facility to support the development of agricultural business and micro food and drink companies. It will also provide relevant skills training.

The West of England’s agricultural business landscape also comprises a vast network of small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and some of the world’s most iconic names in the agri-food sector, such as LettUs Grow.

Lettus Grow Image credit: Lettus Grow

LettUs Grow is an award-winning Bristol start-up that develops technology for aeroponics (or growing crops without soil in large vertical racks). The crops include herbs, strawberries, and small trees grown under LED lights with nutrients provided by a mist of water. As light can be tuned to specific plants’ needs, the process is both water- and energy-efficient.

FoodWorksSW Image credit: The Food WorksSW

The Food WorksSW is a state-of-the-art food and drink innovation centre located in the heart of the Weston-super-Mare Enterprise Area, near Junction 21 of the M5 motorway. Created by North Somerset Council following feedback from food and drink producers, the centre can help businesses of all kinds - from start-ups to well-established companies - to grow or diversify their product offering.

There is on-site technical support and five development kitchens containing specialist equipment for dairy, bakery, drinks and more. The kitchens are available for short-term hire to test, develop and manufacture products. The centre also includes state-of-the-art accessible meeting rooms, conference facilities and a coffee shop where events can be hosted. Anyone is welcome to book the meeting rooms - businesses do not have to operate in the food and drink sector to book these facilities.

Albotherm Image credit: Albotherm

A highly successful spin-out from the University of Bristol, Albotherm develops smart coating technology for glass surfaces. The coating can change its transparency depending on the temperature, providing shade when it is hot and letting light in when it is cold. When applied to commercial greenhouses, the coating reduces the need for artificial cooling and heating, saving water and energy. The coating can also enhance plant growth by adjusting the light spectrum to suit different crops.

Map Impact Image credit: Map Impact

Map Impact develops environmental reporting tools using satellite data. Clients can then understand the impact of their activities on nature and biodiversity, and make informed decisions based on clear and concise data. The cutting-edge technology processes and analyses satellite earth observation data, providing customised solutions for different sectors and needs. The company aims to empower people to protect and restore the natural environment through data-driven insights.

MyOxygen Image credit: MyOxygen

Bristol-based tech innovator MyOxygen creates bespoke mobile and web applications that improve the way people work and live. It recently developed a mycotoxin disease screening app for dairy cows, collaborated with Hartpury College, and continues to expand its engagement in the AgriTech sector.

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