Latest innovation in fruit research on show at Fruit Focus 2023

Ripe pears on tree branch in garden

Innovate UK and BBSRC are teaming up with Growing Kent & Medway to showcase how they invest in research and innovation for the UK fruit sector.

Innovate UK and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) are joining forces with Growing Kent & Medway for the first time at this year’s Fruit Focus.

The Fruit Research Innovation Hub will demonstrate how the three partners invest in important research for the UK fruit sector and support its translation to enable commercial innovation.

Visitors to Fruit Focus on 12 July in East Malling, Kent, will be able to explore cutting-edge research and innovation projects, funded to tackle some of the biggest challenges facing the fruit sector.

On display will be the latest near-market advances in agri-technology, from spectral imaging with artificial intelligence (AI) to machine learning for predicting optimum fruit harvest periods.

Visitors can also find out more about how current research is helping to tackle current and emerging threats to production with novel prevention, management and control strategies.

Innovation in action

Some of the projects on display at the Fruit Research Innovation Hub include:

  • Air-seq: a revolutionary technology developed by Earlham Institute that uses DNA sequencing to provide early warning of airborne pathogens (BBSRC)
  • University of Greenwich and National Institute of Agricultural Botany, East Malling: pheromone of apple sawfly, developing new tools to manage a re-emerging pest (BBSRC)
  • AEH Innovative Hydrogel Limited: innovative vertical farming system which significantly enhances precision, productivity and sustainability while reducing carbon emissions (Innovate UK funding through the Transforming Food Production challenge)
  • Fotenix Limited: integrating advanced camera hardware, 3D multi-spectral and laser-dot technology and AI services to enhance UK food production (Innovate UK funding through the Transforming Food Production challenge)
  • Machere Ltd: identifying organic liquid fertilisers for aeroponic systems (Growing Kent & Medway)

Three tours will also take place throughout the day, giving visitors the opportunity to see a whole host of research exhibits in action.

The food sector of the future

Dr Katrina Hayter, Executive Director for the Healthy Living and Agriculture Domain at Innovate UK, said:

Collaboration and knowledge sharing are central to the development of innovative ideas and moving them from the drawing board to real life.

Our Fruit Research Innovation Hub will allow us to showcase some of our success stories and engage with a range of experts and potential funding applicants from across the industry.

At Fruit Focus, those stakeholders can come together and play a key role in helping to develop the food sector of the future.

Addressing major challenges

Dr Karen Lewis, Executive Director for Capability and Innovation at BBSRC, said:

We share the ambition of growers to invest in collaborative research and development that will contribute to supporting the sector in progressing its economic, societal and environmental goals.

At the Fruit Research Innovation Hub, we will be showcasing projects from researchers across UK universities and institutes that aim to help address some of the most pressing challenges facing horticulture and fresh produce.

Responding to business needs

Dr Nikki Harrison, Programme Director at Growing Kent & Medway, said:

By responding to the needs of local businesses and investing in the capabilities of our regional research organisations, the Kent and Medway region is emerging as an international leader for sustainable horticultural research.

The Fruit Research Innovation Hub presents a great opportunity to see the impact that national and place-based funding is making, for both the sector and the region.

The Hub will demonstrate the advantage and value to UK businesses that collaborative funding approaches can deliver.

Connecting business and academia

The Fruit Research Innovation Hub aims to support the continued drive for innovation and help keep the UK fruit sector competitive and resilient in a changing environmental and economic climate.

It will achieve this by connecting businesses across the supply chain with research funding opportunities and expertise.

It will also offer an important opportunity to connect the fruit industry with government funders to help inform the future direction of fruit research.

Visit us at Fruit Focus 2023

The Fruit Research Innovation Hub can be found at stand 700 during Fruit Focus, East Malling, Kent on Wednesday 12 July.

Three tours of the Fruit Research Innovation Hub exhibits will take place at 10:00am, 11:00am and 2:00pm.

Further information

About Fruit Focus

Fruit Focus is the UK’s premier technical event for the fruit industry. The event provides a unique opportunity to get an update on the latest technologies and industry developments, exchange views and network with fellow producers. Fruit Focus features information and networking for all fresh fruit sectors and wine making or viticulture.

Top image:  Credit: Liudmila Chernetska, iStock, Getty Images Plus via Getty Images

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