East of England Receives Funding Boost of £433,500

February may be cold and dreary, but agriculture in the East of England is looking bright thanks to the GCGP LEP and the Eastern Agri-Tech Growth Initiative’s continued support and investment in the industry.

To date, the scheme has funded over £2 million worth of Agri-Tech growth and development projects throughout Cambridgeshire, Suffolk and Norfolk – clearly placing the area at the forefront of the UK for agricultural innovation and research. Including Peterborough based Chemical Manufacturers Safapac Ltd, who have been awarded £100,000 to grow their business.

The latest cohort of projects approved under the scheme reflect the wide range of activities that the area’s agricultural sector incorporates; including Farming, Chemical Manufacturing, Information  Technology and Food Production and Packaging.

Projects receiving funding are as follows:

– Safapac Ltd, based in Peterborough. Safapac Ltd is a Chemical Manufacturing business intending to upgrade its Herbicide pilot plants to full production scale plants, thereby addressing the seasonality of the business and increasing the all year round supply of agrochemicals to local farmers.

– J. Gilbert & Son Ltd, based in Littleport, Cambridgeshire. J. Gilbert & Son Ltd are a respected family Arable Farming company looking to build an 1,800 tonne capacity combinable crop store with continuous flow dryer to increase productivity and improve efficiency. Working with Anglia Farmers they have successfully been awarded funding through the Eastern Agri-Tech Growth initiative.

– iLevel Ltd, based in Newmarket. iLevel is an Information Technology business seeking to implement and develop a remote monitoring system via mobile apps for the agricultural industry, focusing on fuel and fertiliser measuring. The app will ensure that farmers do not run-out and are warned of theft or pollution to the environment via leaks, which allows them to optimise their stock efficiency. The apps will have a comprehensive reporting system and include SMS notifications.

– Fountain Foods Ltd, based in Upwell near Wisbech. Fountain Foods Ltd is a vegetable processing company that supplies a range of fresh, prepared, frozen and brined vegetable ingredients to the food manufacturing industry. Successfully applying for two Agri-Tech grants, (one from the Growth Fund and the other from the R&D fund) Fountain Foods will seek to develop and manufacture CauliRice – a new, long-life rice substitute made from cauliflower. They will also refurbish and install new equipment in their existing premises.

Mark Reeve, Chairman of the Eastern Agri-Tech Growth Initiative and the Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough Enterprise Partnership (LEP), explains:

“We are delighted by the success of the Eastern Agri-Tech Growth Initiative. So far, the grant scheme has invested over £2 million into projects across Cambridgeshire, Norfolk and Suffolk. By investing in such a wide range of agricultural projects – from an IT company seeking to develop a mobile application to help farmers become more efficient to chemical and food manufacturers looking to increase their productivity, the LEP is defining the future of our region’s agricultural sector by creating jobs, growing businesses and funding vital research. Our grants provide a unique opportunity for local businesses to grow and develop. The process is simple and straightforward, and I would encourage all businesses within the East of England’s agricultural industry to get involved with the scheme and apply for funding.”

Martin Steele, Managing Director of Safapac Ltd, said: “Safapac is one of Europe’s leading contract manufacturers of farm chemicals. In the next few weeks we will be installing a much improved production facility for the manufacture of herbicides that will be used by local farmers and others throughout Europe. With the approval of the Agri-Tech grant we are now able to accelerate our plans to invest £400,000 in new plant and equipment, and exploit exciting business opportunities that are available to us. Without the grant we would not have been able to respond to these opportunities. The investment and subsequent growth in business will lead to at least 15 to 20 new jobs in the coming years.”

Søren Bradbury, Director of iLevel Ltd, said: “iLevel is delighted to have won the Agri-Tech grant. This additional investment in the iLevel platform now will bring forward improved functionality which will enable iLevel to win large order deals with organisations such as large farming estates and liquid fertilizer groups now in 2015.”

Jim Kelk, Factory & Procurement Manager for Fountain Foods Ltd, said: “The award of a grant from the Eastern Agri-Tech Growth Initiative was the final piece of the jigsaw that will see the development and manufacture of CauliRice at the Fountain Foods Upwell site. Once established, this healthy product will be sold throughout the UK and abroad, creating opportunities for the local workforce and farming community in its manufacturing and production.”

Mark Gilbert, from J. Gilbert & Son, said: said: “We are thrilled to receive additional funding through the Agri-Tech grant scheme. The business will now be able to offer a complete harvesting, drying and storage solution to existing and new local farming customers, as well as investigating opportunities in alternative and high value combinable crops. The design of the building incorporates environmentally friendly features such as Rainwater Harvesting and Energy Efficiency savings.”

Dan Cox, Programmes Manager at Anglia Farmers and advisor to Mark Gilbert from J. Gilbert & Son, said: “This is the first time that we have worked with one of our members on the Eastern Agri-Tech Growth initiative and found the process particularly straightforward in relation to other grant schemes. The high level of support from the Project team has been important in developing the application and this has contributed to us being able to achieve a successful outcome. Grant assistance will be the conduit for J. Gilbert & Son to significantly grow their business and we are working with a number of other members to bring forward growth projects and will certainly be encouraging them to apply for funding through this initiative.”

The Eastern Agri-Tech Growth Initiative is funded by the Regional Growth Fund, thanks to a successful bid by the Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough Enterprise Partnership (LEP) with Cambridgeshire County Council, Norfolk County Council, New Anglia LEP and the local authorities covering this area.

Grants are available to organisations looking to invest in new market and supply chain development, ways to improve productivity and efficiency, and the progression, application and commercialisation of Research and Development.

You can find out more by visiting or calling 01480 277180.