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Tech City: Centre to drive animal health technology launched

PUBLISHED: 09:00 11 April 2015

Pictured left to right: Daniel Smith, Ned Flaxman, Scott Lyle, Nick Irvine.

Pictured left to right: Daniel Smith, Ned Flaxman, Scott Lyle, Nick Irvine.

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A herd of cows stopped traffic in Tech City to mark the launch of a leading animal health company’s Centre for Digital Innovation at the House of Lords – a crucial venture for the future of farming.

Zoetis, which had a turnover of $4.8 billion last year, is an organisation more familiar with researching and developing drugs and vaccines than investing in technology

But the company will use the Shoreditch centre, in Rivington Street, to develop a range of digital products to enhance precision farming and improve animal welfare for livestock and pets.

Director of the centre, Scott Lyle, 52, came from Silicon Valley to work on the project and bring his expertise from across the Atlantic to London.

He said: “More than 7billion people depend on animal products as a source of food and if we can find away to streamline precision farming then we should; we have a responsibility to them. Technology creates transparency, it allows us to measure and understand things in a way we couldn’t imagine before, and take action to solve problems.

“Innovation requires not only tech talent but the right culture, too. Tech City has a really deep technical talent pool – the right people, and the right vibe. It’s the Silicon Valley of Europe, and really easy to do business here.”

The event to launch the centre on March 19 was attended by industry representatives including science minister, Lord de Mauley, the National Farmer’s Union and large supermarket chains – both of which prioritise the growing population, and increasing demand for animal produce.

In the new centre, Zoetis will aim to create digital solutions to record the health of animals – enabling pet owners, farmers and vets to recognise more quickly if animals need help.

One app, PetDialog, gives owner and vet a deeper insight into the animal’s health and wellbeing, including the early detection of health issues, managing disease and measuring the impact of treatment.

Similar apps are in development for cows and pigs, which can detect lameness and feeding habits, creating an easily accessible digital record.

This has serious implications for the increased efficiency of agriculture, particularly in remote areas where vet waiting times are a challenge.

Scott said: “I see technology playing a key role, shifting the way people do things when using conventional wisdom to using data to drive their decisions, especially when providing animal care.

“The benefits are so important. In terms of big broad ideals I’d say we can make a difference, by improving the clinical performance vets can provide for when caring for our pets, advancing ‘precision farming’ for farmers, processing big-data into meaningful, actionable results for vets, farmers and pet owners, and, even improve food security for the greater benefit of society.”

Science Minister, Lord de Mauley, who was present at the event, said:“I welcome this new investment which will add great value to UK capability in this area. It builds on the close relationship Zoetis already has with our universities and institutes including many research and development collaborations.

“Zoetis’s decision to locate the Centre in the UK recognises the strength of our data sciences expertise and commitment to innovation including agricultural and biomedical science.”

Scott added: “I feel really lucky to be able to do this. I want to make a difference that is why people who care about animal wellness do this.”

To find out more, visit zoetis.com

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