Redundant to Refined: Countryfile Presenter opens doors of new agritech workspaces

Adam Henson Cuting Ribbon at Manor Farm, Harnhill
Adam Henson Cuting Ribbon at Manor Farm, Harnhill

Countryfile Presenter Adam Henson has opened the doors of five new agri-tech workspaces.

On Friday 30th June, more than 100 visitors gathered to celebrate the official launch of the Farm491 Harnhill workspaces at the Royal Agricultural University (RAU).

Manor Farm, Harnhill, comprising of five workspaces in a refurbished farm barn, is the second phase of the dynamic Farm491 agritech enterprise hub which opened last July.

The launch party at Harnhill commenced at 3.15pm with Farm491 members, RAU representatives, academics, media and experts connected to the agricultural sector all sharing in the occasion.

With welcome speeches, tours of the new premises and networking with members, the event was a huge success, topped off by the official ribbon cutting by Countryfile Presenter Adam Henson.

'Huge honour'

Adam Henson said: “It has been a huge honour to officially open the new technological work spaces at Harnhill Manor Farm – part of the Farm491 agritech development.

“The Royal Agricultural University has personal connection to me as my father studied here years ago, so it has been a pleasure to share in this celebration.”

He added: “Agriculture is rapidly changing and technology is shaping and carving its future. Not only do we need to drive for profit and innovation in farming, but surrounding ourselves with good people, sharing ideas and working collaboratively is key to success.

“The future of agriculture relies on hard work, a collaborative attitude, innovation, entrepreneurship and giving back – and this is exactly what the Farm491 enterprise does.

“Farm491 will facilitate innovation in farming and its extremely exciting to be part of this technological innovation.”

Redundant to Refined

The five high spec workspaces at Harnhill were the focus of Friday’s event.

From a redundant farm barn to now cutting-edge space, the refurbishment offers spacious, secure and practical workshops to help innovators test, refine and launch products and technological solutions.

In addition to the practical working space, Farm491 provides members with access to 491 hectares of farmland, business support, professional experts, investors, farmers and farming data and is a vital support to entrepreneurs looking to grow and establish their businesses in the food and farming industry.

Farm491 strives to bring together a forum of members to collaborate, share knowledge and expertise; an incubation hub where innovations are born, developed, and launched.

The workspaces have received an incredible amount of interest with a growing pipeline of innovators requesting introductory tours to explore what facilities are on offer.

The first residents to establish their home at Harnhill were James and Paul Wright of Multibox - the first company in the UK seeking to produce insects on a commercial scale for the animal feed, fertiliser, and medical industries.

'Secured space'

They said: “Harnhill site at Farm491 provides us with the buildings and office space we need to develop our insect farming business alongside expert advisors and other businesses who can trial our products.

“The workspace is fantastic – it’s a secured space for us to test solutions as well as having access to meeting rooms and adjacent farmland.

“The connection to the University gives us access to academic assistance and an address which adds credibility to our supply chain development from investors, to suppliers, buyers and regulatory authorities.

“We’ve already made our home at Harnhill and we’re looking forward to others joining this exciting agritech community.”

'Ideas to reality'

Verity Payne from Farm491, commented: “Farm491 aspires to help innovators convert ideas to reality and support their growth by providing offices, workshops, and expert advice. By becoming a member of Farm491 you’re investing in an exciting agritech community.

“The initial stages of launching and growing a business can be extremely challenging and daunting and that’s why at Farm491 we care enormously about our members and our priority is to nurture entrepreneurs throughout their journey from product conception to launch and beyond.”

Farm491 covers over 1,000 acres of farmland and in its entirety, will comprise of multiple spaces to support agritech businesses.

Members can use space to test and launch products, as a business base or others may just like to keep in touch with the community through virtual membership.