On the 16th March 2023 AgriFoRwArdS Cohort 3 student Alex Elias, was able to attend this year’s FPC future and careers event in Peterborough with the University of Lincoln Agri-food students and supervisor Dr Carolina Camacho Villa.
FPC Future has firmly Established itself as the Agri-tech event for the fresh produce and flower industry, and attendees were able to join many of the industry’s best business who were eager to share the latest tech to help businesses keep up to date with this fast-developing sector and discover all that is new and upcoming through a range of exhibitors, talks and working displays; with one of the events sponsors being the University of Lincoln.
FPC is owned by its vast membership, and they work exclusively for them. Their current membership stands at around 700 businesses which continues to grow year after year. Members include retailers, distributors, importers, wholesalers, processors, packers, food service and a large number of associated members including freight handling, ports, embassies, laboratories, business solutions, lawyers, packaging, recruitment and trade media.
To get to the FPC event, the bus left Lincoln early in the morning and we arrived at the event for when doors opened at 9:00 am, once we arrived, we were registered, given our name tags and a set of wireless headphones. Throughout the course of the day there were on-going talks in each corner of the room, rather than running around all day by changing the channel on the headphones, you could listen in on any talk/ presentation that you wanted wherever you were in the venue. Other than the talk that were taking place in the four corners of the room there was plenty to do to fill the time with multiple stands where companies throughout the agricultural sector were set up ready to answer questions. There was even a stall to get a professional photo taken for your LinkedIn profile for free to make sure your online profile was up to date and ready for employers to see.
Although there were many things to do at the event the main reason for my attendance was to be able to network with companies with the intention of involving them in my PhD research. Currently I am working on the literature aspect of my PhD keeping up to date with recent papers and exploring previous research by other to help me throughput my own research. However, whilst doing this I am considering the approach in which I am going to take when my experiment beginning this coming September. My goal is to be able to compare both companies that have successfully and unsuccessfully adopted HRI robots and through a serious of focus groups, questionnaires and interview determine whether previous experience (positive or negative) influences whether they are more likely to integrate these types of robots again.
Overall, this experience was extremely beneficial because even though I am not yet in the recruiting stage for my study, I was able to speak with a variety of companies, let them know the kind of work I intend to do, and establish communication channels with them in advance of the start of my experiment. It was a fascinating day, and by going, I got to view a wide range of various agricultural companies and talk to different people about their areas of interest within robotics in agriculture. Even though there is a lot going on within the CDT, I strongly suggest making time to attend events like this because it really helps to be immersed in cutting-edge robotic solutions and people who are working on these real-world problems. This will help you to stay focused on what you want to achieve regarding your MSc and PhD projects.
A huge thank you to Alex for taking the time to share his experiences of attending and networking at this years FPC event so that other CDT students can also gain the benefit!
Do you want to get involved in the CDT?
If you are interested in learning more about what we do and if you share a passion for agriculture and technology then go to our AgriFoRwArdS CDT website to see more about our research, how you can be involved, and how to apply to be a student in the program.