Innovation news in brief: AgTech; idea management; Formula 1; Venturefest

The new innovation centre will help boost livestock production

Livestock innovation centre launched

A new £70 million innovation centre that will bring together the food industry and academic researchers is set to transform the UK livestock industry.

The Centre of Innovation Excellence in Livestock (CIELivestock) has been allocated £31.7 million funding from BIS to set up state-of-the-art facilities across the UK, providing the livestock industry with access to world-beating research.

Additional funding from industry for projects in the Centre and investments by the participating research institutions will bring total investment to more than £70 million.

Sam Hoste, interim chief operating officer of CIELivestock, said: “CIEL’s objective is to increase the economic performance of UK farming and associated industries by £12 for each £1 spent in research. By bringing together the best research in areas such as breeding, animal health, biotechnology, feeding and genomics the centre will create a state of the art, one-stop-shop for the industry that we expect to increase productivity and drive innovation.”

The universities of Edinburgh (The Roslin Institute), Leeds, Nottingham, Newcastle, Aberystwyth, Bristol, Queens (Belfast) and Harper Adams are receiving investment from CIEL, as well as the UK’s leading research institutes including Rothamsted Research, the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute Northern Ireland (AFBI), Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC), Fera and Duchy College.

CIEL will be headquartered at the National Agri-Food Innovation Campus near York. It will be hosting a day specifically for industry members in May 2016 and a wider industry conference in the autumn.

Details and more information here:

Employee ideas lost in translation

Three quarters (74%) of employees say their company does not have a strategy, process and tools in place to encourage the sharing of ideas. As a result, one third of suggestions that could improve business ROI never even make it to the boardroom, a new report suggests.

According to The Guide to Becoming an EveryDay Innovator, by Wazoku, a leading idea management software company, innovation is being stifled by a serious loss of ideas across business workforces. Less than half (42 per cent) of employees are contributing new ideas proactively and regularly, and one third (32 per cent) of employees see the board as the driving force for innovation.

The report says in order to successfully capitalise on employee knowledge company-wide, innovation must be baked into the everyday working practices of all employees and defined as part of business-wide objectives.

Despite this, only 50 per cent of employers believe innovation is actually embedded within the leadership team. In fact, more than half (53 per cent) of managers are unaware of what innovation truly means to their business and how it fits in, and 78% of workers more widely believe the term ‘innovation’ means different things to different people.

Simon Hill, CEO of Wazoku said: “Over the last four years we’ve spoken to numerous successful organisations, from Abellio Greater Anglia to Microsoft, the BBC and Waitrose, whose ambitions to successfully harness and capitalise on innovation in their business have pushed us to launch this series of reports.

“Our latest strategy paper offers businesses the tools they need to assess their current innovation readiness and create their own innovation vision statement and strategy, aligned to the outcomes they wish to achieve.”

Scottish tech entrepreneurs help the world’s most marginalised children

The Scottish technology sector can play a leading role in developing innovative solutions to help children around the world, delegates at a special Unicef event in Edinburgh were told recently.

Speaking at the Innovation for Every Child: Scotland Reimagines the Future event at Informatics Ventures in Edinburgh, Sharad Sapra, global girector of UNICEF Innovation, said: “Unicef must continue to be at the forefront of innovation if we are to continue pushing the boundaries of our work protecting children around the world. Innovations using mobile technology to register births, sharing real-time data to improve education and health, and giving young people a way to connect with their governments are already changing the way we work but there is much more to do.”

“We need more innovations urgently and hopefully this event today will facilitate our aims in building relationships with the internationally recognised Scottish technology sector to help innovate for impact in our work for children around the world.”

Chris van der Kuyl, chairman of Entrepreneurial Scotland, said: "Understanding technology, being innovative and having an entrepreneurial mindset are crucial assets for young people to help them succeed wherever they are in the world. Entrepreneurial Scotland is working towards making Scotland the most entrepreneurial society in the world and one way of progressing this is to share the amazing knowledge and expertise we have globally.

“The opportunity to work with Unicef on such an important agenda with leaders and technology experts from Scotland has the potential to improve the lives of children all over the world and empower young people to engage more with key issues such as education and health and over time strengthen their economies and societies."

Formula 1 team showcases cross-industry collaboration

The Formula 1 Williams team are hosting an event today (Thursday) to show how transfer of technology across industries speeds up innovation.

Representatives from corporations, small businesses, start-ups and investors will gather for an invitation-only event today at the Williams headquarters in Wantage, Oxfordshire.

Among the speakers will be Craig Wilson, managing director of Williams Advanced Engineering, who will explain how the company is transferring its Formula One technology to other sectors.

Also speaking are Kevin Baughan, director of technology and innovation at Innovate UK, on how Innovate UK is enabling cross-industry collaboration, and Tom Whitehouse, of the London Environmental Investment Forum, on financing for accelerated innovation.

Innovators gather at Venturefest East Midlands

More than 1,500 delegates are expected to attend Venturefest East Midlands in Leicester next week (March 16), which offer innovative businesses the opportunity to connect, network and grow. With representatives from both public and private sector it brings together:

  • Innovators who have exciting new ideas
  • Investors who want to partner and financially support innovators to commercialise their ideas
  • Entrepreneurs who can turn ideas and money into new and successful businesses

With a significant focus on funding and finance, as well as how to grow in the export market, visitors can expect live crowd funding, live pitches to investors and the chance to find out more about global brand supply and open innovation opportunities.

Venturefest East Midlands is a free to attend event. Delegate registration is open now via