Would the crowd back your agri-tech venture?

Would the crowd back your agri-tech venture?

By Erin White - 10 January 2017

“Crowdfunding is not a quick and easy solution, but it can be incredibly rewarding,” says Paul Hughes (pictured right), Head of Venture Development at Allia’s Future Business Centre. He will be sharing everything you need to know about crowdfunding at Agri-Tech East’s ‘Show Me The Money! Focus on Funding’ event in Cambridge on 23 January, which will cover a range of funding options.

Crowdfunding uses smaller individual amounts of capital from the general public to finance a new business venture, with social media and websites enabling direct engagement with investors. As enthusiasm for this strategy continues to rise, campaigns no longer have to rely on traditional sources of finance such as venture capitalists. Nevertheless, Paul believes that crowdfunding is not a single solution for fundraising.

He says: “It is one of many strategies and it is not right for everybody. It’s not just a case of throwing something on a website – you have to work incredibly hard for people to give you their hard-earned money and there is no guarantee you will be successful.”

While many are familiar with the concept of crowdfunding, it can be difficult to take those first steps. Additionally, it is rarely used in early stage development; the strategy is more relevant to a late stage pre-market product, when people are able to recognise the market opportunity being presented.

“Before deciding to take this route, you should attend crowdfunding events or talk to crowdfunding platforms,” says Paul.

“So while investing in crowdfunding is not for amateurs, it does mean that your friends and family can put in £50 and feel an affinity to your product.”

Another source of funding is grants. Calum Murray (pictured left), Programme Leader of Sustainable Agriculture and Food at Innovate UK, will also be presenting at the event, outlining those that are available for farming funding.

He says: “Innovate UK funds business led innovation with grants from the public purse, and also connects businesses with potential collaborators. All kinds of businesses can apply, from pre-start up and new companies to large multinationals.”

There is also still time to apply for EU money. Rural businesses looking to apply for EU funding will benefit from listening to Norfolk County Council’s Rural Projects Facilitator, Emma Taylor. She believes that EU funds have to be treated as the last opportunity:

“These are super funding opportunities,” says Emma. “We don’t know what the funding landscape will be like post-Brexit – so it is a good time now for rural businesses to come forward and see what they can achieve with this funding.”

Ashley Clarkson, Associate Director at Grant Thornton, will be talking about how to make the most of R&D tax credits. Ashley is a specialist within the food and beverage sector group at Grant Thornton and a spokesperson for the agricultural sector.

The “Show Me The Money! Focus on Funding – Revisited” Pollinator will take place from 4pm to 7pm at the Future Business Centre, King’s Hedges, Cambridge on 23 January. Visit the Agri-Tech East website to register:

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