A Knowledge Transfer Partnership between the James Hutton Institute and Scottish-based agritech business Intelligent Growth Solutions Limited (IGS), has been distinguished with the highest grade of “Outstanding” by the Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) Grading Panel in recognition of its excellence. The aim was to develop innovative crop systems that will produce high-quality products year-round with a limited environmental footprint.

Yields can be increased by approximately 100 per cent compared with a glasshouse

The KTP, which was in effect from December 2016 to November 2018, was undertaken by KTP Associate Matthew Reid and other scientists from the James Hutton Institute who worked alongside IGS to test and validate its revolutionary vertical farming systems. The project was specifically focused on basil and the impacts of light variations on its growth in an indoor Totally Controlled Environment Agriculture system. The results achieved have demonstrated the complex interactions between plants and light sources and shown that yields can be increased by approximately 100 per cent compared with a glasshouse when growing in this environment using dynamic, multi-spectral lighting.

David Farquhar, Chief Executive of IGS, said: “The grading of this KTP project as ‘Outstanding’ speaks for itself and we congratulate Matthew and the rest of the James Hutton Institute and IGS team involved. This research has provided significant empirical evidence to show how our vertical farming systems can positively impact the yield, quality and consistency of produce. This increases our value proposition to existing and potential customers which is a significant result for the IGS business. The credibility of working in partnership with the James Hutton Institute as a world-leading authority in plant science reinforces our decision to base our demonstrator farm at its site in Invergowrie.” Dr Rob Hancock, a plant biochemist within the Institute’s Cell and Molecular Sciences group and knowledge base partner of the Hutton-IGS KTP, said: “This KTP has been fundamental for the development of the Advanced Plant Growth Centre project, which was ultimately supported by the Tay Cities Deal.

“The benefits that will flow from this KTP to both IGS and the Institute are expected to be substantial and without the KTP the entire project would not have been conceived.”

KTP has snowballed into a multi million-pound capital investment

Alasdair Cox, Director of Operations at the James Hutton Institute, commented: “The initial work of the KTP has snowballed into a multi million-pound capital investment programme that will transform the science undertaken across the entire Institute. It will have impacts on our scientific direction and interaction with industry for many years to come.”

Knowledge Transfer Partnerships are part of an UK-wide programme linking commercial organisations with academic institutions to help support and shape the future of British businesses.

KTPs seek to strengthen the competitiveness, wealth creation and economic performance of the UK by stimulating innovation through collaborative projects between businesses and research organisations.