CIEL | News: Innovate UK Smart Grant win for CIEL Member Antler Bio

CIEL Member Antler Bio and CIEL have secured a Smart Grant, awarded by Innovate UK, to support the next stage development of a precision herd screening tool for the dairy sector.

The new technology will enable farmers to tailor their farming system to suit the genetic make-up of their herd, with the aim of improving the productivity, sustainability and efficiency of their business.

Smart Grants are open to organisations across all industries who come forward with an innovative idea that will have a positive impact on the UK economy. There has been rare success for agrifood businesses in the past. However, Antler Bio, a genomic research and technology organisation, has been successful in its application, with the project due to commence this month (February 2022).

“We’re utilising the Smart Grant funding to develop an artificial intelligence (AI)-platform, which will provide farmers with information on the prominence of specific genes that can be influenced by environmental factors. In essence, monitoring gene expression within a herd,” explains Maria Jenson, CEO and founder of Antler Bio.

“Using the genetic data provided through this platform, farmers will be able to alter factors within their control, such as rations or housing environment in response to information provided, which in turn has the potential to lead to improved productivity.”

Maria Jenson, CEO and founder of Antler Bio

Commenting on the grant award, Nikki Dalby, CIEL, says this technology would support UK dairy farmers in addressing the challenges ahead.

“At CIEL, we’re conscious that industry is facing a long list of challenges; from the impacts of Brexit and COVID, cost inflation and labour shortages, to the transition from BPS. This technology helps to mitigate the risks associated with some of these challenges. Farmers can achieve this is through optimising the performance of their existing assets, such as their dairy cows, by improving fertility and milk productivity,” she explains.

“CIEL’s role is to support Antler Bio by using our networks to ‘stress test’ the technology. We will work with farmers and industry to develop a user-friendly digital platform and take the technology from concept into practical use”.

Nikki Dalby, CIEL
“The Smart Grant is notoriously difficult funding to win, with up to 10,000 applications received per round of funding, so this is a positive result for UK agriculture,” adds Ms Dalby. “It’s testament to the potential impact of this technology on dairy production and the wider food and farming industry. It’s fantastic to see forward-thinking businesses like Antler Bio receive the support to transition their innovation from concept to farmgate.”

Find out more about Antler Bio.

Dairy cows | Innovate UK Smart Grant win for CIEL Member Antler Bio