Diego Durantini joins Agri-TechE as Interdisciplinary Manager

New technologies for earth observation, automation, sensing and prediction are just a few of the innovations that are revolutionising agri-food production and attracting fresh thinking into the sector.

Diego Durantini, Interdisciplinary Manager at Agri-TechE

To further encourage innovations with potential for application in agriculture, and to help even more organisations with exciting technologies explore the opportunities that the sector offers, Agri-TechE is expanding its team and appoints Diego Durantini in a new role as Interdisciplinary Manager.

Historically, agriculture and horticulture innovations have resided in companies developing new agchem, undertaking crop or livestock breeding programmes, or producing machinery to manage farms, crops and livestock more efficiently. Today the landscape is more complex, with many of these organisations diversifying and new entrants exploring the market, bringing their technologies proven in other sectors as varied as fintech, defence or automotive.

Agri-TechE has been instrumental supporting the growth of the agri-tech innovation ecosystem and its director, Dr Belinda Clarke, says that Diego’s appointment reflects the next step in the evolutions of both the industry and Agri-TechE: “Diego is joining us at an exciting time and his expertise in business management and deep knowledge of the opportunities will be hugely beneficial to our members and those companies exploring the agri-food market for the first time. We are delighted to have him on board.

“We have supported the growth of the agri-tech ecosystem for over eight years and many of the innovations that we helped profile just a few years ago are now in operation on commercial farms – such is the speed of adoption when the technology is appropriate.

“Domain knowledge is vital, so as the sector matures and consolidates, we are now looking to leverage our expertise internationally and with non-traditional players to provide a gateway to the industry. Diego’s expertise will add value to this activity and his breadth of knowledge will be greatly appreciated.”

Diego comments: “I have always had a strong interest in the intersection between technology, industry and agriculture, and my MBA was focussed on problem-solving.

“I am very excited about joining the Agri-TechE team and working in such a diverse and evolving sector.”

Diego has had a life-long interest in agriculture. As a child in rural Italy, his school had an experimental farm and agricultural science was integrated into the curriculum. His friends included the son of one of the largest privately owned farms, and holiday jobs on a range of farms have provided a context for his academic interests.

He worked for many years in plant breeding in Germany, with interests in vegetables and ornamentals. He led the molecular breeding research programme for Ernst Benary Samenzucht GmbH, the market-leading producer of begonias, and established customer relationships internationally. As part of his role, he looked at using advanced technologies to create efficiencies within the organisation while boosting productivity, an interest that has continued to this day.

Diego’s projects have included increasing the milling efficiency at the ingredient manufacturer Condimentum, where he introduced visual stream mapping to the mint production line. This operations model helped increase production and generated significant savings for the company.

In previous roles he developed business plans for early-stage companies exploring bio-lubricants, biocontrol and advanced pea breeding, looking particularly at how to add value to existing processes.

Working within the John Innes Centre business development office, he had a key role in identifying potential industry collaborators for research projects.

His new role as Interdisciplinary Manager will build on these experiences to support existing members – big or small - and provide new-to-agriculture businesses with a “soft landing” to the sector and offering strategic insights to help build their confidence in agri-food as a successful new market opportunity.

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