Johnson Matthey and Cranfield University nurture fresh growth in agritech

Johnson Matthey, alongside Cranfield University, has announced the first cohort of companies to join a pilot Agritech Partnership Programme (JMAPP).

The announcement follows a five-week global search for companies and individuals who want to develop their innovative agritech solutions. The companies will be given an opportunity to develop their product or idea within an intense programme of collaboration and scientific and management support.

More than 35 businesses entered a competitive pitch process hoping to receive a package of advice, support and funding within a new three-month programme worth in excess of £50,000 each. From a strong field, three emerging companies were chosen by experts from Johnson Matthey and Cranfield University. The first companies in the pilot programme are:

  • Azotic Technologies, whose R&D Laboratories are based in Nottingham, is developing a unique natural nitrogen-fixing technology based on a symbiotic endophyte that could allow any crop variety to fix nitrogen directly from the air.
  • Bionema, a company based out of Swansea University’s Institute of Life Science, is working on chemical-free pest management solutions and has devised a non-toxic bio-based microencapsulation technology.
  • Water&Soil, based in Budapest, Hungary, has developed an organic soil enhancement product, which aims to improve water efficiency, whether saving on irrigation costs or enabling cropping in areas of marginal cultivation where water is scarce.

Drawing on their wealth of commercial and scientific expertise, Johnson Matthey’s scientists and business experts will now work with the companies to develop their ideas within a Proof of Concept framework. In addition, the three companies will enjoy the use of the world-class research facilities located at Cranfield, including those of the UK Government’s Agritech Centres, Agri-EPI and CHAP. The Agritech Centres’ facilities at Cranfield have recently received £10 million of investment. A broad package of support – ranging from seminars, masterclasses and networking opportunities through to one-on-one mentoring – will also be on offer.

“We’re really looking forward to the next few months at Cranfield,” said Kristin Rickert, Johnson Matthey’s Innovation Director. “Johnson Matthey is committed to collaboration as part of our open innovation approach. Our ultimate goal is to help develop fresh ideas into sustainable new products and technologies. This new programme supports that perfectly and these are great ideas to work on together.”

Professor Leon A. Terry, Director of Environment and Agrifood at Cranfield University, added: “This is an exciting time for innovation in agritech, as demonstrated by the volume, global breadth and strength of the applicants to the programme. One of the greatest challenges for the sector is creating an environment where ideas and innovations can become reality. By combining the scientific and business expertise of Cranfield and Johnson Matthey, we are giving our first cohort the best possible chance to succeed by bringing forward their innovations to market.”