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Working in partnership with agri-tech innovators

George Peck
Agriculture Manager

I work in the Agriculture Team at Tesco and one of the things we’re really passionate about is working with our farmers and suppliers to champion new technology and innovation.

In October this year, we hosted our second Tesco Agri T-Jam, partnering with the World Agri Tech Summit, to bring 10 of the most exciting and innovative start-up businesses working across the agriculture sector to the Heart building at our Welwyn Garden City offices. The start-ups were there to pitch their new technology ideas for a chance to win the opportunity to work with some of Tesco’s long-term supplier partners.

Our aim is to provide our customers with affordable, healthy and sustainable food, and events such as the Agri T-Jam can help to support our suppliers to be more efficient and allow Tesco to deliver an even better service to customers.

Open to new ideas

The Agri T-Jam judging process began nearly four months ago, when almost 100 start-up businesses from over 25 countries applied to be part of the event. Over the following months, the Tesco Agricultural Team and our Research & Development Committee, comprised of key representatives from Tesco suppliers across our Agricultural supply chains, worked through the applicants to produce ten worthy finalists. Concepts ranged from rapid diagnostics of animal illnesses through to creating environmentally friendly agricultural fertiliser.

The 10 finalists were then invited to pitch to a judging panel made up of Tesco colleagues from across the wider Tesco business and supply base, as well as an audience of over 100 people consisting of Tesco colleagues, suppliers and industry stakeholders.

Food Technical and Agriculture Director, Emmanuelle Lerges described how the event was a “great opportunity and a great forum to look for new innovation and new technology to help us to get to the next stage” of agricultural development.  

The event was won by Cambridge based start-up business, Roboscientific, which specialises in the early detection of disease in poultry, livestock, growing and stored crops. The technology they apply can instantly pick up the development of disease within livestock sheds or vegetable cold stores, meaning a farmer is immediately alerted so that they can intervene before the problem becomes too severe.

Working in partnership

In the coming months, Roboscientific will be introduced to a number of Tesco suppliers with the view of trialling their technology across a range of sectors, following in the footsteps of our 2018 winner, Impact Vision. Since winning the inaugural event, Impact Vision have completed trials with our biggest fresh potato supplier, Branston.

Impact Vision have been working to use their technology to measure potato dry matter content, with a view to assisting Branston in determining the best use of certain potato varieties. Impact Vision were selected as last year’s winner, due to the versatile and adaptable nature of their technology and the ability to address some of our key shared aims with Branston, such as reducing food waste.

We are looking forward to continuing to work with Impact Vision, but also further exploring the capability of Roboscientific and introducing them to our wider supply base over the coming year.

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