Rothamsted Open Innovation Forum (ROIF) is seeking to bring together innovators, researchers and investors to turn bright ideas into reality to help the agricultural industry meet the challenges of the future.

“Whether it’s an animal health initiative which is working on a local basis, a new development in breeding or nutrition, or the next step in cutting edge technology, if it can help the agri-food sector move forward then we want to hear about it,” says Chris Dunkley, chief executive of the Rothamsted Centre for Research and Enterprise.

The inaugural ROIF is a brand new concept in the agricultural industry, adopting a cross-sector collaborative approach to answering the big questions. “It isn’t about one company or research institute knowing better than another, it’s about all of us working together to effect real change,” says Mr Dunkley.

The forum, which will be held from 18 to 20 January 2017, will include a two-day conference to identify specific areas on which to focus, followed by practical workshops with key stakeholders to work out how to turn those ideas into reality.

Those projects will then be taken forward and reviewed in the next forum. “Open Innovation has delivered real benefits across other industries and it has real potential to drive the British agri-food sector into the 22nd Century,” says Mr Dunkley. “But it’s not about us setting the agenda, which is why we need to hear from those in the industry who have seen the challenges and have potential answers to them, but who need a little help to take things forward.”

The ROIF will also be focusing on knowledge transfer, to ensure that every farmer can benefit from the developments. “In a recent twitter forum with @AgriChatUK, this was a common theme that emerged throughout the discussion,” says Mr Dunkley. “There is so much valuable information already out there, the key is to make sure it’s accessible.”

The team is now matching up relevant stakeholders for each workshop, so needs all proposals to be submitted by 15 December. “Whether you are a small enterprise looking for investors, a larger business seeking research assistance, or a single farmer with entrepreneurial flair, please get in touch and help us to shape a vibrant, profitable future for all.”

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