KTN is involved in a UK agri-food consortium formed to address labour shortages by accelerating the use of robotics g

time between the University of Plymouth, where he lectures in robotics and leads the Soft and Adaptive Robotics lab, and as an associate professor at the Western Norway University of Applied Sciences. Te robot works by using different

cameras for different functions. It has what the company calls ‘global’ cameras, for tasks such as fruit identification, as well as ‘local’ cameras to support the final stages of harvesting. Te robot then takes advantage of

artificial intelligence-visualisation techniques to sort fruit that meets the standards set by supermarkets, in terms of ripeness, size, colour and other parameters.

Te place to be Te UK government has published an R&D roadmap, and a commitment to increase public investment in R&D to £22bn by 2024 to 2025. ‘Te existing funding will also continue,’ explained Wasley, ‘and we will see innovation funding continuing – both challenge-led funding and open funding. ‘We may well see the government

set up an agency for specific challenges and advanced projects

that are more high-risk and therefore difficult to get funding. Businesses doing something towards particular challenges are in a good position; those looking at open funding are in a much more competitive environment. Tat’s on grant funding. I think we’ll certainly see debt funds and equity investment continuing’ said Wasley. ‘Te world is turning and we’ll

see a much bigger or increasing focus on sustainability.’ Imaging and machine vision will

have an important role to play here, both in terms of efficiency and also new technologies that can help with the issues

surrounding it. For companies looking at R&D

grants Wasley advises that keeping an eye on where the specific challenge funding is and positioning

towards enabling a green recovery ‘is always a sound place to be.’ Tis green recovery is taking place

globally, but certainly funding in this area is a focus in the UK and Europe, explained Wasley. ‘Funding and investment, be it

through the European Investment Bank or the UK government and


funding continuing – both challenge-led funding and open funding’

‘We will see innovation

the British Investment Bank, is always going to be a focus and I think the big question for the next 12 months is whether, and how, the UK associates with the European Union.’ Wasley said that with Europe getting

ready for the successor of Horizon 2020, the UK will have to consider this international collaboration, which is still seen as very important. ‘Tere will be opportunities across

Europe and wider,’ he said. ‘It’s positive. I really think there is a light at the end of the tunnel, but it is going to require people to think differently. ‘Industry has always had to adapt to

survive and grow, and I think that’s going to be more important than ever. Te businesses that can pivot quickly and find new opportunities are going to be in a really good place.’ O

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