This winter's tomato shortage has highlighted the lack of resilience in the salad marketplace. Much of this arises from the lack of seasonal labour in the UK horticulture industry, whereby we tend to rely upon importation, rather than homegrown produce. In many areas of agriculture, innovation is helping farmers cope with these issues. However, soft fruit harvesting is one area where more work is needed, especially with the current situation resulting in many crops going unpicked this year, leading to large amounts of unnecessary waste.
The need for innovation to help resolve this "crisis" is reflected in Agri-OpenCore's latest project. They are working to encourage the development of a robotic harvesting system that can achieve cost parity with human picking, but with an open development platform. This is to facilitate standardised access to the core robotic software and hardware components for third parties. This in turn should allow companies working in the agritech space to achieve rapid adoption of compatible technologies.
Even with an open development platform, companies will still need to protect their investments. They may also need to secure funding from investors and licensees, who often likewise expect protection for their investments. As a result we anticipate an ongoing need for these companies to secure their intellectual property in their innovations using patents, design rights and trademarks.
Furthermore, companies will need to undertake due diligence to ensure they are not infringing other third party IP rights.
Our agritech team looks forward to assisting companies working in this sector to achieve these aims.