LEP funding supported creation of £2.9m flagship agri-tech centre

Marches LEP case study: Agricultural Engineering Innovation Centre


“This centre is playing a key part in developing new techniques and technologies in agricultural engineering and the farming sector. Not only has it helped create new jobs, but it is bringing in investment from the Government and the private sector and promoting innovation in the industry.”

                                        Dr David Llewellyn, Vice-Chancellor of Harper Adams University


"The centre at Harper Adams is acting as a catalyst for research and education, innovation and skills transfer, within the related engineering fields."

                                                                        Graham Wynn OBE, Chairman, Marches LEP



  • £750,000 via a loan from the Marches LEP’s Marches Investment Fund

  • More than 200 new direct and indirect jobs created through businesses supported

  • Critical role in developing new technologies for farming practice


Harper Adams University, near Newport, is home to the £2.9m Agricultural Engineering Innovation Centre (AEIC), a multi-purpose building housing teaching accommodation, ‘clean’ engineering laboratories for larger scale agricultural machinery, and space for the development of new agricultural drones, robots and related software.

The AEIC is also home to the National Centre for Precision Farming which aims to develop new agri-technologies, one of the key business sectors of the Marches LEP region of Herefordshire, Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin. Precision Farming is an approach to farm management that uses information technology (IT) to ensure that the crops and soil receive exactly what they need for optimum health and productivity.

The AEIC is a catalyst for research and education, innovation, knowledge transfer and skills development within the agri-tech sector.  It is playing a critical role in developing new technologies for farming practice, and in bringing together expertise from the agricultural engineering industry, the farming sector and the wider academic community. 

Support from the Marches LEP

The Marches has an international reputation for expertise in engineering and precision farming as applied to soil science, water management and crop and livestock production. The centre provides a resource for agri-food businesses in the Marches and beyond to raise productivity and create export markets using advanced engineering solutions.

The project received a loan of £750,000 from the £8.1 million Marches Investment Fund via the Government’s Growing Places scheme which aims to support job-creating projects across the UK.  So far, it has created 21 of the 22 new, direct full time equivalent jobs that were forecast to be created by this scheme. The facility’s indirect job target of 200 new jobs has been exceeded through the support provided to businesses using or connected with the facility. 

The Marches Investment Fund was launched to support projects which are development ready, able to quickly start creating economic growth and those needing assistance to complete final stage feasibility studies.  

Dr David Llewellyn, Vice-Chancellor of Harper Adams University, said: “The National Centre for Precision Farming and the Agricultural Engineering Innovation Centre have not only helped develop our research with industry but have catalysed world-leading research trials on the application of robotics in farming.  Furthermore, our vision for precision farming has since led to a £5.7m Government investment in Engineering and Precision Farming on the Harper Adams campus that will connect us with many more industry-based research projects, bringing further benefits to the local and regional economies.’

“Precision farming is key to the agriculture and food sectors right now, so it is good to know that, with the support of the LEP, we are at the forefront of these new developments, whilst contributing to local economic development.”


Since opening in 2013, the building has:

  • led to new collaborations with major engineering and agricultural companies;

  • helped support the University’s work on other research projects, notably its long-term trials to improve the management of soil and water resources;

  • been the venue for numerous events aimed at encouraging young people to consider a career in the agricultural engineering sector, or introducing farming and food sector representatives to new technologies.

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