REPRESENTATIVES from over 40 organisations and businesses around the region visited Pershore College for the opening of its new Agri-Tech Research Centre.

The centre was funded with the support of £500,000 from Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).

It houses a research and teaching laboratory, an outdoor vertical farm system and an indoor fully-automated hydroponics chamber.

It also contains robotic and computer-based technologies used to educate students on modern applications of food production.

Attendees enjoyed presentations and demonstrations on a number of topics as well as a tour around the centre with Professor Roy Kennedy, leader of the college's agriculture technology programme.

The keynote speaker was Alastair Taylor, chief executive of the Institution of Agricultural Engineers, who spoke about the need for agri-tech to solve issues in world food production.

He said: “I very much welcome the work of Pershore College to raise awareness of the role of agri-tech in securing global food security. We wish the centre every success and look forward to seeing it developing with new innovations and enterprises.”

The visitors also heard about a new project which aims to engage technology businesses to develop new solutions to challenges faced by the sector.

The GrowAgri Worcestershire project, part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund, will deliver business support for small to medium-sized enterprises to support business growth, increased productivity and to introduce new products, processes and services.

Professor Kennedy said: “We were absolutely delighted to welcome so many of our partners, stakeholders and businesses to the official opening.

“Pershore’s agri-tech centre will be a key resource for industry, where businesses can come and be trained in innovative technologies and work with students on projects to help develop solutions to the many challenges facing the agriculture and horticulture sector.”

Gary Woodman, chief executive of Worcestershire LEP, said: “Pershore College is playing a crucial role in addressing current and pressing skills shortages that act as a barrier to business innovation and growth.”