Careful preparation has borne fruit for British AgriTech company Farmer Charlie, after taking part in a Global Business Innovation Programme (GBIP) focusing on Singapore. Farmer Charlie’s involvement in the GBIP has led to it signing a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Singapore-based Kacific Broadband Satellites Group, a next-generation broadband satellite operator.
Each Innovate UK GBIP, organised by Innovate UK EDGE, sees up to 15 high-growth, innovative businesses being given the chance to enter new markets around the world. As well as being given detailed insights into a particular market and its culture and introductions to potential global business partners and investors, participants get to make an extended visit to the relevant country, to pitch and build their networks. Each GBIP explores opportunities for collaboration and investment in specific sectors: the Singapore GBIP, which culminated in a visit to the country in February 2022, focused on Space.
“I brought this GBIP to the attention of the Farmer Charlie team,” says Innovate UK EDGE Innovation and Growth Specialist Sandra Steinhauer, who has been working with the company since January 2021, “because I knew that they were interested in the Asian market, and this event focused on the Space sector, which is also important for them.” Sandra then helped Farmer Charlie to hone its application: places on each GBIP are awarded on a competitive basis.
Farmer Charlie delivers smart, low-cost, localised information (on local weather conditions for example) to farmers in remote and isolated places, helping them to improve their land management and food production, better manage the risk of drought, floods, and other extreme weather events, and address the impacts of climate change. As well as helping the farmers themselves, in other words, it helps them to operate more sustainably.
The MOU with Kacific will see the companies teaming up to bring affordable, localised, satellite-based agricultural information and advice to farmers and agri-businesses across South East Asia and the Pacific.
Preparation key to GBIP success
For Farmer Charlie’s Founder and CEO Betty Bonnardel, key to success at the Singapore GBIP was preparation: she worked in advance to identify exactly those people who she most wanted to meet, and even adapted the company’s promotional material to the local market.
According to Betty, being able to appear under an official flag, as a participant in the GBIP, also made a considerable difference. She says: “it was great to have the chance to work alongside Innovate UK EDGE and the UK High Commission in Singapore, who brought their combined experience, contacts and assets to help us. The GBIP was like UK plc coming together.”
Betty was also helped by the advice and training that she’d received at a two-day Pitchfest event last year. Organised by Innovate UK EDGE, Pitchfests help innovative businesses to hone the way that they present their businesses as part of wraparound support with their funding and finance strategy. For Betty Bonnardel, “Pitchfests don’t just show you how best to present your company in the critical first encounter with a potential investor or partner. They also give you practical support in developing a business plan.”
“Taken all together, the support we’ve had from Innovate UK EDGE has really helped us get where we are today.”