Agri-tech centre Crop Health and Protection (CHAP) and farming technology company Liberty Produce have launched the Innovation Hub for Controlled Environment Agriculture (IHCEA) at the James Hutton Institute’s site in Invergowrie near Dundee.
CHAP partnered with Liberty Produce to develop and build the IHCEA facility with funding from Innovate UK. The facility is a series of self-contained units housing state-of-the-art equipment with a modular structure designed to create a flexible environment for research and development. With integrated LED lighting systems and patented nutrient delivery technologies, this research facility will enable collaboration between industry, academia and government to effectively tackle the barriers to widespread adoption of vertical farming. Its purpose is to accelerate the development of sustainable food production year-round through resource-efficient, fully-controlled systems.
The IHCEA is a key part of Liberty Produce’s Future Farming Hub, which will offer a wide range of services, including research and development and CEA training programmes within a commercial demonstrator system, as well as industry and academic collaboration opportunities.
The James Hutton Institute has welcomed the location of CHAP’s IHCEA and Liberty Produce’s Future Farming Hub in Invergowrie, in the context of the Institute’s drive for the establishment of Open Science campuses at its sites and this has been facilitated by the creation of the Advanced Plant Growth Centre at Invergowrie as part of the Tay Cities Deal.
Fraser Black, CHAP Chief Executive, said: “We are excited to be partnering with Liberty Produce and the James Hutton Institute to establish the Innovation Hub for Controlled Environment Agriculture (IHCEA), in Invergowrie. This is a prime example of CHAP’s mission to harness game-changing ideas from our creative and innovative partners to solve the problems industry is facing today and tomorrow. This is a progressive step in our ambition is enable the United Kingdom to become a global leader in CEA and augment the production of healthy food in a sustainable way.”
Zeina Chapman, Liberty Produce Co-Founder and Director, added: “Vertical farming is not yet sustainable; this partnership which has established the IHCEA and Future Farming Hub at the James Hutton Institute marks an advancement of our collective journey towards creating truly sustainable vertical farming technologies. The greater vision of Liberty Produce remains driving innovation that will enable us to meet our global crop requirements without harming the planet.”
Professor Colin Campbell, Chief Executive of the James Hutton Institute, commented: “This collaboration with Liberty Produce and CHAP marks the next step in the growth of the Institute's Open Science Campus initiative and brings new innovative companies to work closely with world-leading science. This has been facilitated by Tay Cities Deal announcement to create an Advanced Plant Growth centre at Invergowrie and our other new investments there and builds on our track record of engaging with industry, research partners and the public.”
UK Government Minister Colin Clark said: “I am pleased to see the opening of this new Innovation Hub at the James Hutton Institute. We know that technological innovation is the future of sustainable agriculture and Scotland is home to world-leading resources and expertise in this field. The UK Government recognises the importance of this work and remains committed to funding research and development through our modern Industrial Strategy.”
It is hoped that the synergy between CHAP, Liberty Produce and the James Hutton Institute will provide a better understanding of total controlled environment technologies, drive innovation and accelerate the growth of the vertical farming sector in the UK.