Agri-Tech Centres team up for a virtual New Scientist Live

CHAP made its second ‘outing’ to the annual New Scientist Live exhibition, following last year’s successful event at London’s ExCel.

As the name suggests, this is usually a live event but due to Lockdown, the organisers transformed it into a fully virtual festival of ideas and discovery. Accompanied by our fellow Agri-Tech Centres of Innovation, Agri-EPI and CIEL, CHAP had the opportunity to address a wider and younger audience than usual.

The full-day event, on Saturday 28th November 2020, attracted more than 2,000 visitors. The main presenters were Jacqueline McGlade, Professor of the Environment at Gresham College, Tim Spector, Professor of Genetics at King’s College London, Charles Spence, Professor of Experimental Psychology at Oxford University, and Michelle Patel, Head of Social Science from the Food Standards Agency.

CHAP, Agri-EPI and CIEL joined the Future of Food and Agriculture area, where visitors were able to chat live and take part in Q&A’s with scientists, technologists and farmers. There were opportunities to meet farming robots and to learn about some of the cutting-edge technologies being developed to help feed the world’s growing population and protect the planet. Attendees experienced 360˚ lab visits, tested their knowledge in interactive quizzes and even considered their careers with the help of ‘Day-in-the-life-of…’ videos.

The three agri-tech centres taking part in the day hosted a virtual room with non-stop content. CHAP’s contribution kicked off with Dr Jenna Ross introducing CHAP by giving an overview of our capabilities, before going on to present ‘Hot Potato’, a video covering the impact that Potato Cyst Nematode can have on potato farmers and food production and looking at CHAP’s project to combat the pest in Kenya. She also showcased the futuristic Slugbot project.

CABI’s Dr Belinda Luke explained her work in ‘What Bugs Us’, a presentation about the vital battle against the devastating Cabbage Stem Flea Beetle.

Last but by no means least, Ross McKellar’s energetic and entertaining ‘Can You Be-leaf It?’ video tour of CHAP’s Tardis-like Innovation Hub for Controlled Environment Agriculture gave visitors a fun and informative introduction to vertical farming. We think he could definitely have a future in children’s TV!

New Scientist Live 2020 was a great experience for both attendees and exhibitors. We will of course be there for next year’s session, wherever that may be, but have high hopes that it will once again be live in London!


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