Industry support for UK Agri- Tech Centre – Phil Bicknell

Phil Bicknell, CEO,UK Agri-Tech Centre
Published: April 23, 2024

Phil Bicknell, CEO, UK Agri-Tech Centre

Phil Bicknell is the CEO of UK Agri-Tech Centre, with a strong career in various agri-food roles including market intelligence, agricultural economics and agri-trade issues. Phil recognises the ongoing challenges in the agri-tech sector and looks forward to utilising the opportunity to use science and innovation to lead and guide transformational change for the sector, for the benefit of humanity and the planet.

Have you ever had a “penny drop” moment? For Phil Bicknell, CEO, UK Agri-Tech Centre, it was on a farm walk in Cumbria…

I first came across the Agri-Tech Centres in a previous role at an event organised by CIEL. They were launching GrassCheck GB on a farm in Cumbria. We walked around the farm looking at the rotational grazing and how they were making the most of their grassland. I thought the science was really interesting, and then the penny dropped and I realised that I could take more scientific approach to getting the most out of grassland on the farm at home.

The Centres were soon back on my radar, this time with CIEL’s thought leadership work around net zero. Debates around livestock production can be heated but they cut through the noise with scientific evidence, producing a really impressive piece of work and highlighting areas which could help the sector, such as carbon sequestration, multispecies swards, forage crops and biochar application, as well as the research needed to support their development.

Around that time, I also attended some meetings with Agri-EPI who were focusing on adoption, which is a big priority for our new merged company, UK Agri-Tech Centre. We have in our sights the UK’s impressive back catalogue of science and evidence that could generate a massive positive impact for the agri-food sector. The scope is enormous.

When I joined CIEL to head up its business development team two things became clear: first, how fragmented the agri-tech landscape is, and second, just how much expertise and passion there is among our staff, membership and partners to transform the sector. Combined with our world-leading facilities we have a phenomenal springboard for the sector.

We are launching UK Agri-Tech Centre at a pivotal time: agri-food is the bedrock of the UK’s largest manufacturing sector, a sector which is facing ongoing challenges around volatility, policy upheaval, input costs and environmental sustainability. UK Agri-Tech Centre will make the most of the phenomenal opportunity to use science and innovation to lead and guide transformational change for the sector, for the benefit of humanity and the planet.

We’re really looking forward to working with the industry using the themes that we have created to inform our work, namely Resilient Food Systems, One Health, Intelligent Agriculture and Sustainable Production. We will address these themes via our framework to Connect, Inspire, Grow and Adopt.

In practice, this will mean working at an even greater scale and pace on horizon-scanning, resilience-planning, building networks, boosting awareness, testing and trialling, providing technical advice, supporting people who are developing agri-tech solutions, and facilitating knowledge exchange, to pick but a few!

I am so grateful to everyone within and connected to our new organisation who have helped to get us to this point. It has taken a considerable amount of work and effort and I’m really looking forward to working with you all to drive agri-innovation at unprecedented levels.

These views are of Phil Bicknell, not of UK Agri-Tech Centre

If you have any questions about Phil Bicknell’s views or general enquiries about the UK Agri-Tech Centre, please contact