Centre

Essex Plant Innovation Centre (EPIC)

Part of School of Life Sciences, School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering

A row of black plastic plant pots, from the front of the photo to the back, with small green shoots growing out of the pots, and a window in the background.

Blue sky, green thinking

Welcome to EPIC – the Essex Plant Innovation Centre.

The Essex Plant Innovation Centre brings together the research skills, expertise and technologies across our science faculty (Life Sciences, Computer Science and Electronic Engineering) together with the Institute for Analytics and Data Science (IADS) and Essex Business School to address the grand challenges facing farmers, technologists and all those in the agricultural and horticultural sectors.

The Centre aims to deliver and expand our research in these areas as well as our engagement with industry and end users.  Combining our expertise in these various areas provides us with the opportunity to explore new opportunities to engage with industry.

Our mission is to take the best of our science to meet these grand challenges by creating synergies across departments and collaborating on solving the important questions facing the food industry. We have the ambition of developing a sustainable funding model for our plant/environmental research fit for the rigours of the emerging UK research environment.

We reach beyond the confines of academia as EPIC has a clear mandate to work with to all parts of the agri-tech and environmental industry to address both fundamental questions and deliver solutions to real-world problems through a productive relationship with academic researchers and business partners.

We’re different because we bring a commercial mind-set to our work. It’s in the simple things that make for great customer service in the business world, and we embody those in our everyday thinking. We’re responsive to your needs. We work hard to make sure you are getting the outputs you want, when you want them. We’re not bound by tradition, and offer fresh perspective and innovation in all we do.

We want to be the people you think of first when you ask the difficult questions.

What we do

Our work anticipated and responds to some of the challenges covered in three major documents:

EPIC’s research offer is tailored to meet the needs highlighted in these three policy documents in a number of key areas:

  • Plant science, particularly in understanding plant productivity and  its molecular underpinnings.
  • Soil science, notably in managing environmental concerns and the rhizosphere – the community of bacteria and fungi that interact with plants and the soil.
  • Computer science and engineering, where technological innovation to meet Agri-tech needs gets done.
  • Data science, while it’s very easy to generate data in the modern age, the interpretation remains a complex task requiring specialist skills.

Our impact

We hope and believe there will be manifold and tangible societal benefits. Of course, successful research should help meet national and international crop productivity targets, with benefits for food quality, quantity and availability. But more than that, our research will also ensure environments are improved not degraded as a result of our interventions.

We believe EPIC can be a source of high-quality long-term jobs in the region as innovative processes and products are commercialised.

There is a strong educational component to EPIC, and our vision is to align undergraduate and masters teaching along with doctoral research to give students the skills they need to work in Agri-tech.

Official launch event 

EPIC was launched on 20th September 2019 with over forty agriculture and horticulture companies in attendance.

Our launch report and stakeholder presentations revealed the breadth of opportunities for research and development in this exciting field. Watch this space for outputs, collaborations, and grant-funding wins.

Key staff

Professor Anthony Vickers

Head of School

School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering, University of Essex

Key theme: Computer Science and Engineering

Professor Philip Mullineaux

Head of School

School of Life Sciences, University of Essex

Key theme: Plant Science

Professor Maria Fasli

Executive Dean (Science and Health)

Faculty of Science and Science, University of Essex

Key theme: Data Science

Professor Christine Raines

Professor

School of Life Sciences, University of Essex

Key theme: Plant Science

Dr Ulrike Bechtold

Lecturer

School of Life Sciences, University of Essex

Key theme: Plant Science

Dr Vishwanathan Mohan

Lecturer

School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering, University of Essex

Key theme: Computer Science and Electronic Engineering

Dr John Woods

Senior Lecturer

School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering, University of Essex

Key theme: Computer Science and Electronic Engineering

Professor Alex Dumbrell

Senior Lecturer

School of Life Sciences, University of Essex

Key theme: Soil Science

Dr Corinne Whitby

Senior Lecturer

School of Life Sciences, University of Essex

Key theme: Bio-aerosols and Bioremediation

Professor Terence McGenity

Reader

School of Life Sciences, University of Essex

Key theme: Bio-aerosols and Bioremediation

Dr Hossein Anisi

Senior Lecturer

School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering, University of Essex

Dr Adrian Clark

Reader

School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering, University of Essex

Dr Vahid Abolghasemi

Lecturer

School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering, University of Essex

Contact us
Professor Tracy Lawson School of Life Sciences
Wivenhoe Park, Colchester, CO4 3SQ