Diversity of thought in agri-tech innovation

Female vertical farmers closely monitoring the growth of hydroponic lettuce crops beneath LED lighting.

Highlighting the work of female innovators working on the transforming food production challenge of feeding a growing world population in a changing climate.

In the last couple of years, the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as recent climate, food and energy crisis have caused current global challenges to be exacerbated. As a result of this, we have experienced drastic changes within our economic sectors and their supply chains. The agricultural sector has been undergoing change to address these emerging issues. However, these growing problems also open up new opportunities for innovation in the sector.

Innovation and more innovation

Innovation in agri-tech is important to help increase the resilience of the sector and address the challenges we’re facing. This includes finding new and sustainable solutions to:

  • produce food
  • improve animal welfare
  • reduce emissions and pollution
  • deal with rising energy costs

All this, while meeting the challenge of feeding a growing world population in a changing climate. New ideas, technologies, and the adoption of these solutions, are going to be key for both the immediate and near future. Innovation in the sector requires diversity of people as well as diversity of thought to realise these ambitions.

Dispelling the stereotype

In the past, the sector has been widely considered to be an older male-dominated industry. When you look at this from an outside perspective, onlookers might feel like one has to conform to the stereotype to fit into agriculture, but this really isn’t true and there is already great talent, from a range of backgrounds, within agri-tech right now.

Trail-blazing women in agri-tech

Last summer we released a series of videos featuring some of the founders and pioneers we have worked with as part of the transforming food production (TFP) challenge. Among them were several women working on tackling sustainability, productivity, and resilience of the UK food sector through their innovations and businesses.

View the ’meet the pioneers’ playlist on YouTube.

There are lots of exciting technologies and changes happening within this sector. Women in agri-tech have a large role to play in challenging the gender stereotype of what a typical person working in this sector looks like.

Within the TFP team, we wanted to shine a light on the diversity that exists across our current project portfolio. So after speaking to our female innovators to understand their journeys into the sector, we put together a video of our 4 leading innovators. Here they share their journey and provide valuable advice to anyone interested in a career within the sector.

Video credit: Innovate UK
Video transcript and on-screen captions are available by watching on YouTube.

The TFP team, is also looking at what more we can do to help support greater diversity within the agri-tech sector. We have seen that some of the best solutions to the challenges we’re facing initiate via creative thinking from individuals from a diverse range of backgrounds and cultures.

Embracing diversity within the innovation process will be critical to develop solutions that tackle the biggest and most pressing challenges we will face in the coming decades, such as food security and climate change.

The TFP challenge is delivered by Innovate UK.

Top image:  Credit: AzmanL, iStock, Getty Images Plus via Getty Images

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