In the fall of 2023, a significant announcement was made by three leading Agritech Centres – Agri-EPI, CHAP, and CIEL.
They declared their plans to unite under a single entity in April 2024, aiming to cover the full spectrum of agricultural innovation. Innovate UK, acknowledging the critical role of the agricultural sector, encouraged these Centres to formulate a strategy for transforming into an Agri-Tech Catapult. The merger process is advancing smoothly, with the recent appointment of the Chief Executive Officer for the merged entity, marking a crucial step forward in bolstering the UK’s agritech sector.
Dr Peter Quinn, who is overseeing the merger as the Chair of the Transition Board, expressed his pleasure in naming Phil Bicknell as the CEO of the soon-to-be unified Agri-Tech Centres business starting April 1. He highlighted the thorough search that was conducted to find the most suitable leader, praising Phil Bicknell for his vision, expertise, and dynamism he is expected to bring to his new role.
Dr Quinn remarked, “Securing Phil’s leadership is a key milestone in our journey towards the merger. With the finalization phase upon us, we, along with our partners, have considerable work ahead. However, our dedicated teams are eager to leverage this unique opportunity to drive significant advancements in agricultural technology.”
Phil Bicknell, the appointed CEO, shared his enthusiasm about leading the transition towards a unified agri-tech entity, emphasizing the strategic importance of this consolidation for innovation acceleration within the sector. He outlined the benefits of merging the Centres, including enhanced research capabilities, investment opportunities, and stronger networks, all of which are poised to establish a dynamic hub for agri-tech excellence in the UK. Bicknell stressed the merger’s role in streamlining the sector, fostering inclusivity, and promoting efficiency across domestic and international engagements.
He articulated his conviction that evolving into a Catapult will serve as a transformative milestone, boosting the agricultural industry’s stature in alignment with other pivotal sectors and ensuring a unified approach to government collaboration. Bicknell is excited about the prospects of this new role, looking forward to working alongside a talented team and various sector partners to realize the vision for a thriving UK agri-tech landscape.