Centre will harness data analytics to develop genetics and health innovations

Agritech Hub abuzz with £74m funding

The joint power of world-leading research and technology will be used to improve the output of agriculture and enhance food security, following the announce- ment of a £74m investment in a new Agritech Hub, via the Edin- burgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal. Te Hub will be based at the

University of Edinburgh’s Easter Bush Campus in Midlothian, and will bring together researchers with commercial, public and third-sector organisations. Its work will engage with a diversity of farmed and companion animal species, delving into such areas of innovation as data-driven breed- ing and aquaculture. Tis will improve health outcomes for both humans and animals – a “one health” approach. “Tis is a very exciting time

for agriscience, with transforma- tive technology and data-sharing opening up new approaches for fair and inclusive growth,” says Professor Bruce Whitelaw, interim director of the Roslin Institute. Te Hub will harness data analyt- ics to develop genetics and health innovations in agriscience and agribusiness and help transform agritech to a net zero carbon sector.

In addition to its global

ambitions, Professor Whitelaw explains why the Hub will have a regional focus. He added: “We aim at Easter Bush to make our Agritech Hub the destination of choice – for the citizen who wants to upskill; the student who wants to learn; commercial play- ers seeking innovative academic partners to develop solutions to industry challenges; and budding entrepreneurs eager to grow their dreams into tomorrow’s commer- cial leading activities. “All of this is based on provid-

ing leadership in the generation, curation, analysis and meaningful representation of agritech data. Te City Region Deal will drive an innovation pipeline from Easter Bush in Midlothian across our country and internationally, built on novel research and fuelling a step change in upskilling, talent development and enterprise activities.” Te Agritech Hub is part of the

City Region Deal’s wider invest- ment into data-driven innovation – a core strategic theme for the University of Edinburgh – and in- cludes substantial capital invest- ment from the UK and Scottish governments (£27m and £1.3m respectively). l

10 | FUTURESCOT | SPRING 2021 Case study:BeeBytes

BeeBytes is a start-up based at the Roslin Innovation Centre at the University of Edinburgh’s Easter Bush Campus. Its founders are Mark Barnett and David Wragg of the Roslin Institute, and Matthew Richardson from the School of Engineering. Barnett and Wragg are honey bee researchers, and both Barnett and Richardson are Scottish Expert Beemasters. BeeBytes is a community

interest company specialising in the analysis of honey bee genetics and DNA analysis. Its mission is to help beekeepers and bee farmers

select and breed honey bees in the UK. The company will help conserve the native honey bee subspecies, offering a low-cost genotyping and analysis service so beekeepers and breeders can increase colony numbers by selecting from their best stock. This will involve beekeepers posting samples of bee antennae to the scientists, who in turn perform a DNA test to quantify the native ancestry proportion of their honey bee colony as many beekeepers prefer to keep the native subspecies.

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