The first three companies to benefit from the Johnson Matthey Agritech Partnership Programme (JMAPP) have been announced – two from the UK and one from Hungary.

The JMAPP is a joint initiative between is Johnson Matthey, the £3.6 billion precious metals, chemicals and sustainability group based in Royston, Hertfordshire, and Cranfield University. It will give selected businesses the opportunity to develop their product or idea “within an intense, three month programme of collaboration and scientific and management support”, a package worth around £50,000.

The three companies in the JMAPP pilot programme comprise:  Azotic Technologies, with R&D facilities in Nottingham, which is developing a unique natural nitrogen-fixing technology based on a symbiotic endophyte that could allow any crop variety to fix nitrogen directly from the air. The business is already working with Gleadell Agriculture to commercialise the Natural Plant Nutrition (NPN4) product.

Bionema is a business spun out of Swansea University’s Institute of Life Science. It is working on pesticide-free pest management for the horticulture, forestry, turf and amenity sectors, delivered through its non-toxic bio-based microencapsulation technology.  Water&Soil, located at Budapest in Hungary, has developed an organic soil enhancement product to improve water efficiency – either reducing irrigation costs or enabling areas of marginal cultivation with scarce water to be cultivated.

Johnson Matthey scientific and business experts will help the three companies develop their ideas within a proof of concept framework, while they will also have access to Cranfield’s R&D facilities, including the Innovation UK Agri-EPI and CHAP Agri-Tech centres which have brought Cranfield some £10 million in investment.

“This is an exciting time for innovation in agritech, as demonstrated by the volume, global breadth and strength of the applicants to the programme,” says Professor Leon A Terry, director of environment and agrifood at Cranfield. “One of the greatest challenges for the sector is creating an environment where ideas and innovations can become reality.”

For more information about the programme visit www.cranfield.ac.uk/jmapp