Friday, 25 June 2021

Norwegian virtual fencing firm makes UK home at Newport’s Agri-epi centre after support from Telford & Wrekin Council

Telford and Wrekin is fast becoming a hub for leading agricultural technology businesses with ground-breaking Norwegian firm Nofence choosing Newport as its UK base, after securing support from the council’s enterprise arm.

Nofence has devised a fenceless grazing system using solar-powered GPS collars that train the animals to stay within a specific area.

The technology is already being used by 25 customers across the UK as well as landowners grazing cows, sheep and goats in Norway, Spain, France, Germany, Belgium and Italy.

Landowners simply draw a map on a phone app of the area they want fenced. The solar-powered GPS collars play a melody to alert the animals when they approach the invisible fence line, the cattle then learn not to cross the line when the melody plays.

Since April, Nofence has made its UK base at the Agricultural Engineering Precision Innovation (Agri-EPI) Centre which is located at the Harper Adams University campus, with three permanent members of staff and a recruitment campaign to support its growth in Britain.

Telford & Wrekin Council and its Enterprise Telford inward investment arm has been providing support to Nofence UK on visa, tax, property, and recruitment issues as well as assisting with collaborations and links with academia.

An Enterprise Telford spokesperson said: “This is an excellent Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) win for our area and the Agri-EPI Centre, attracting a cutting-edge agri-tech business at the forefront of future farming with the prospect of bringing high value jobs to the district.

“It also underlines the strength of the Agri-EPI Centre and Telford & Wrekin as a key UK centre for advanced farming technology businesses.”

Synne Foss Budal, in charge of sales and marketing for Nofence in the UK, said: “We chose the UK as a place to invest in due to it being ranked number one for doing business in agriculture.

“The Department for International Trade supported us by signposting the best opportunities for us within the UK, this is how we were introduced to Telford & Wrekin Council.

“Telford & Wrekin Council played a vital role connecting us with their partners at Harper Adams University where the Agri-EPI Centre is based, which is groundbreaking when it comes to development, research and testing new digital agri-tech products and machinery.

“Having a home in the heart at the centre not only has opened up a large network of sector opportunities but also helps us develop new products thanks to the research department.”

She added: “We’d highly recommend utilising the opportunity to work with DIT, we have found both the DIT’s knowledge and the expertise of Telford & Wrekin Council second to none.”

An Enterprise Telford spokesperson added: “Agri-EPI is the perfect incubator for new and emerging agri-technologies. Ni.PARK nearby offers the perfect grow-on space for these companies once they have proved concept and commercialised these technologies.”

Jane Lycett, Agrifood Specialist for the Midlands Engine Investment Hub, said: the Nofence UK move to Newport was the fastest foreign investment win seen so far; “Telford is leading the UK in terms of agri-tech wins so far to date this year!”

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