Agrimetrics announces appointment of Chief Product Officer
Dr. Matthew Smith, former Director for Business Development at Microsoft, has been appointed Chief Product Officer at Agrimetrics – in a move described as a 'significant milestone' in the evolution of the company.
"The appointment of Matthew Smith as Chief Product Officer represents the next stage in our journey," says David Flanders. "The last few years have taught us the features and capabilities required by the market. The coming months will see Agrimetrics launch a platform which makes these capabilities easily available. In doing so, we will accelerate the development of the solutions, applications and models which the sector so desperately needs. Matthew will be vital in driving that forward."
Matthew joins Agrimetrics from Microsoft, a role which began in a computational ecology research group, before progressing to working closely with global corporations, organisations and Governments on digital transformation projects.
These projects included the modernisation of farming systems and agri-food supply chains through improving data-driven decision making. For example, a recent project focused on improving Unilever's tea production in Kenya.
"I've seen first-hand the transformative effect data has had in other industries, but agriculture is yet to fully experience this. However, the transformation is happening now: the number of agri-tech start-ups is growing exponentially, organisations are becoming more data-aware and ground-breaking research is being turned to real-world applications. The sector is on the cusp of a data-driven revolution in productivity and sustainability, and Agrimetrics is driving that."
Dr. Matthew Smith
Chief Product Officer, Agrimetrics
Dr. Matthew Smith is well known on the conference circuit. Here, he discusses artificial intelligence during the Oxford Farming Conference
Matthew credits growing up and working in the countryside during his teenage years as the driver behind his decision to study Ecology and applied science.
"Before working in the countryside, I had wanted to study physics. But something about being in the field excited me. I saw so many opportunities for my passion to better understand the world around me to help improve farming – and the environment more generally."
Matthew studied Ecology at the University of Aberdeen before joining Kew Gardens, where he worked across a range of conservation projects.
"When I joined Kew, my key motivation was how best to use data to improve on-the-ground decision making for non-experts. One project which sticks in my mind was with HM Revenue and Customs. Using digital checklists and user-guides, we created tools that helped customs officials identify endangered species: a major challenge was making them remember to look out for plants rather than firearms, cigarettes and alcohol."
Outside of work, Matthew would work on computational models of plants, work which won him a place at the prestigious Santa Fe Complex Systems summer school. He would go on to study for a PhD in Applied Mathematics at Heriot Watt University.
"The modelling, the Santa Fe Institute and ultimately my PhD opened my eyes to all the ways in which we can turn scientific understanding, technology and data into new forms of intelligence for people to use."
Dr. Matthew Smith
Chief Product Officer, Agrimetrics
Dr. Matthew Smith sits on a panel during the Game Changing Technologies in Agriculture Event, hosted by The Department for International Trade, in his first public engagement for Agrimetrics
It was this drive to apply big data and scientific methods to real-world applications which drove Matthew to Microsoft. Twelve years later, it was this same drive which motivated his decision to join Agrimetrics.
"Since day one, my goal has always been to help stakeholders manage our environment more intelligently. Gradually, I realised that the area in which I could have the most impact was agriculture. By joining Agrimetrics, I am able to devote 100% of my time to helping organisations use data to create a more productive and sustainable food system."
In his spare time, amongst other things, Matthew manages an allotment in West London, which is currently planted with winter crops and nitrogen-fixing beans.
"I'm practically-minded. I want to be on the ground when the magic happens. I want to see people using our solutions to make decisions which lead to tangible benefits. Hearing it second-hand or seeing it modelled on a computer isn't enough. I guess my allotment is one way of connecting me with a tiny piece of the real-world challenges commercial growers face."
Agrimetrics is one of four agri-tech centres at the heart of the UK Government's Agricultural Technologies strategy. Our mission is to catalyse innovation in the sector through the use of big data and advanced analytics. We do this by providing easy and affordable access to data, a platform for sharing and connecting complex data, and our own data science and AI expertise.
About the four centres The Agri-Tech Centres are a unique collaboration between Government, academia and industry to drive greater efficiency, resilience and wealth across the agrifood sector. A £90m investment from the UK's strategic innovation agency (Innovate UK) is enabling the Centres to harness leading UK research and expertise as well as build new infrastructures and innovation.
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