THREE agri-tech centres that are set to merge have announced Phil Bicknell as future chief executive.

Agri EPI, CHAP and CIEL will merge in April this year into an integrated business “spanning the entire agri innovation ecosystem”.

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Mr Bicknell, who joined CIEL in 2021 and was made director in June 2023, will lead the transition board for the merger and head up the combined organisation.

He said: “The transition to a single agri-tech business is a pivotal move to accelerate innovation for our sector, and I feel privileged to have been asked to lead the organisation.

“By combining the Centres’ UK-wide capabilities, with their world-class research facilities, investment and innovation expertise and extensive networks, the new business will be a hub for UK agri-tech to thrive.

Working smarter

“This merger will simplify the landscape, be completely inclusive and make it easier to navigate.

“That applies to everyone we engage with, here in the UK and internationally – meaning we all work smarter and more efficiently, removing sector and technology silos.

“It is the catalyst to think about the bigger picture, to challenge our food and farming systems, and to think further forward.

“I firmly believe that becoming a Catapult will be the game-changer. Effectively, it elevates the profile of the agri industries – forming a strategic partnership with the government.”