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Stimulating Innovation in the Agri-Food Sector

Supporting Agri-Food Businesses Across Yorkshire

About Us


This project, 'Stimulating Innovation in the Agri-Food Sector' (or SIAFS for short), aims to help small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in North Yorkshire, West Yorkshire and the East Riding, who aspire to develop and grow their businesses.

The project combines Science City York’s (part of Make It York) business expertise with Fera's research and facilities. The project is funded by the European Regional Development Fund. 

See how the project can help your business.  

Fera (formally the Food and Environment Research Agency), based at the National Agri-Food Campus near York, is a leading supplier of scientific solutions and advice across the agri-food supply chain. Over 350 scientists work to develop and support a more sustainable supply chain and a healthy environment to protect the global community from biological and chemical risks.

Science City York (part of Make It York) supports Bioscience, Creative, Digital and IT businesses in Yorkshire. The company works with a large network of businesses generating work, skills and opportunities. SCY has a wealth of experience working with agri-food companies.


Meet the Team

Hilary Hamer - Sector Speclialist

Hilary has over 25 years experience working in the agri-food sector working to identify and deliver essential, relevent and necessary skills to the food industry. Hilary is the founder and director of the voluntary community network Food4Hull, part of the Sustainable Food Cities movement, working across the city of Hull to bring together all food related projects and address food poverty and health. 

Hilary has a BSc in Food Science from the University of Reading, an MSc in Health Sciences from Leeds Beckett University and an MSc in Food Policy from the University of London. Hilary is also a member of the Institute of Food Science and Technology Accreditation Panel.


Aimie Ridsdale - Events and Marketing Executive

Aimie has a wealth of experience in the food sector, having worked for the York Food and Drink Festival for a number of years. Aimie has also worked with small food producers across Yorkshire supporting their marketing and advertising. Aimie has a keen interest in tackling food waste and creating sustainable supply chains. 

Aimie has a BA in Philosophy from the University of York and an MSc in Marketing, focusing on Food Sustainability, from the University of York. 

 Aimie's role within SIAFS is to plan workshops and masterclasses, tailored to what businesses tell us they need.


Heather Niven - Head of Science City York

Heather is Head of Science City York, helping companies boost performance and growth by supporting businesses, stimulating the development of new products, processes and markets. Science City York works in four areas; Agri-food, Bioscience, Creative and Digital. 

Within the Agri-Food Sector, Heather is a founding member of Agri-Food Yorkshire, a network of networks which aims to bring producers together to share worries and strengthen the sector.

Heather has a BSc in Psychology from the University of Stirling and an MA in Leadership and Management from York St John University.



Meet the Fera Team

Becky Green - Business Development Manager

Becky Green is an experienced Senior Business Manager with a demonstrated history of working in the food and research industry with companies such as Northern Foods, ALcontrol Laboratories and Ecolab. She is skilled in management, fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG), business development, analytical chemistry, and food microbiology. Becky is a strong business development professional with a HNC focused in food science and technology from the University of Lincoln.

Barry Hilton - Business Development Manager

Barry joined Fera Science Ltd. in August 2014 as Business Development Manager in the food area having worked previously in a number of commercial roles in analytical testing laboratories.  Before joining Fera, Barry had a track record of selling analytical food and non-food testing services to a range of customers from manufacturers, retailers and importers. Having worked for Eurofins in a number of different commercial roles for over 12 years and building up significant commercial retail contracts, he moved to LGC in 2012 to promote their food testing services.

With a degree in applied chemistry, Barry started his career in a hospital biochemistry laboratory before joined Quality Management (now LGC) as a Senior Chemist providing microbiological and chemical proficiency testing services to the food industry. Barry is a member of the Royal Society of Chemistry with Chartered Chemist status and is also a Member of the Institute of Food Science and Technology.

In his current role, he is responsible for promoting all the relevant services of Fera to the food industry. His knowledge of this industry provides excellent market intelligence to help Fera shape its offering to add value to current and prospective customers.

Stuart Adams - Business Development Manager

Stuart Adams has a PhD in chemistry from the University of Leeds.  He is a senior analytical chemist at Fera Science Ltd. He has a background in chemical residue detection in food and environmental samples, using chromatography mass spectrometry based techniques.  Stuart currently works on novel methods within the Food Quality and Safety programme. Here he is responsible for improving laboratory methods for chemical residue detection in both scope of coverage of methods and to increase their cost efficiency. His current research interests are focused on small polar molecule detection and the application of emerging mass spectrometry technology for multi-residue detection in foods.

Paul Brereton - Business Development Manager

Paul Brereton is Science Lead for agri-food research at Fera Science Ltd.  A senior scientist working at science-policy interface, he has over 30 years’ experience of applied research in the area of food safety and quality.  Paul has led two large EU research projects concerned with food authenticity and traceability: the €20M TRACE project and currently FOODINTEGRITY, a €12M project on food fraud. He has published over 70 peer reviewed papers and articles and recently edited the book “New analytical approaches for verifying the origin of food” (Woodhead/Elsevier). He has close links with the food industry, UK Public sector, academia and the European Commission. He has recently taken up a joint position at the Institute of Agri-Food Research and Innovation (IAFRI) a joint institute between Newcastle University and Fera that aims to deliver innovation in research across the agri-food chain.

Larissa Collins - Business Development Manager

Having gained a PhD for her studies at The University of Dundee and the Caribbean Epidemiology Centre in Trinidad on the chemical ecology and biocontrol of mosquitoes, Larissa joined Fera Science Ltd. in 1997. Larissa manages insect monitoring programmes for several commercial and government customers and researches insect vectoring of viral and bacterial plant pathogens. The results are used to improve decision-making tools to improve quality and yield. She has worked on numerous projects such as: aphid transmission of potato and carrot viruses; investigating the biology, distribution and disease vectoring potential of carrot psyllids in the UK; production of Pest Risk Assessments for potential invasive insect species; development of a multi-species lure for insect pests in food and feed storage and production premises; pests and pest population studies in grain stores; and development of a rapid in-field test for peach-potato aphid.

Larissa has a proven record of providing customers with affordable, rapid and practical solutions and is always happy to discuss how science can be applied to help their businesses.

James Donarski - Business Development Manager

James Donarski holds a PhD in structural chemistry from UMIST.  James is Head of Food Authenticity at Fera Science Ltd. He has a background in analytical chemistry, authenticity determination, non-targeted analysis and small molecule structure elucidation. James oversees the science of the authenticity and profiling team, which comprises experts in the fields of stable isotope analysis, high resolution mass spectrometry, high field nuclear magnetic resonance and proteomics.  Currently, his primary research interests are identification of biomarkers and where applicable, the subsequent development of rapid and/or portable tools for their detection.

Toby Reich - Business Development Manager

Toby Reich comes with 10 years of European agricultural and horticultural business experience and expertise. His experience includes supply chain improvement, business transition and leading new business. Specifically within Agricultural industry he has held several sales, marketing and commercial management roles. He has been National Sales Manager of Seed Genetics with Syngenta UK.  In addition, he was Business Manager of Seed Treatments & Enhancements in North West Europe for Arysta LifeScience.  He trained in Crop Protection Agronomy through Harper Adams University, studied Marketing & Sales Excellence through INSEAD and has sat on a number of food and agricultural committees.

Toby is currently accountable for the Business Development of the Plant Protection Programme at Fera Science Ltd, focusing the delivery of environmental, detection, testing and management technologies. 

Paul Robb - Business Development Manager

Paul Robb started his career in analytical science undertaking post graduate research into radiochemical method development at Loughborough University, after which he undertook post-doctoral research into metal speciation in the human and ruminant GI tract using computer and chemical models of digestion.  Returning to things radioactive, Paul worked for the then UKAEA in Dorset providing nuclear reactor and site analytical support before joining the Food Science Laboratory in Norwich focussing initially on trace and heavy metal analysis using state-of-the art technology.  Working on multi-element analysis of foods in total diet studies, snack and convenience foods, dietary supplements are only a few examples and he then moved into veterinary drug residue analysis of products of animal origin when the capability moved to York.  A short period working with Defra colleagues during foot and mouth disease kindled an interest in incident response, biosecurity and crisis management which continues to today.  Paul now leads a team of science specialists with interests as varied as food authenticity, naturally occurring toxins, geographical origin, rapid testing and dealing with a wide range of chemical and biological challenges in food safety. 

Rosario Romero - Business Development Manager

Rosario Romero is a Senior Scientist in the Food Quality and Safety programme at Fera Science Ltd. She holds a PhD in biology and worked in biomedical research for 20 years before joining Fera in 2010. Her current research interests include the development of rapid diagnostics for the agri-food sector and the application of mass spectrometry, in particular proteomic approaches, to food authenticity and safety issues. Recent work involves the development of molecular biology assays for the rapid detection of foodborne pathogens, proteomic approaches for meat speciation, and participation in an inter-laboratory trial to assess the performance of quantitative methods for allergens in food. She has authored 24 research articles and is co-inventor of fourteen patent applications.

Miles Thomas - Business Development Manager

Miles Thomas has a BSc (Hons) in agricultural botany and a PhD in plant pathology from the University of Wales. His initial work on disease control in grasses and cereals led to the development of database handling systems for large data sets, and after running the analysis of the Government’s pesticide usage surveys for several years, he went on to manage the team. For some years he worked closely with the OECD and EU in training accession member states and was recognised as a world expert in pesticide usage monitoring. For over 15 years he has led the development in Fera Science Ltd. of web-based knowledge management systems, firstly with LIAISON, a sophisticated on-line database of UK pesticide approvals, followed by FC24, an on-line database of EU regulations covering all contaminants and residues. Having been  involved in several EU-funded projects on food safety over the last 10 years he has led the development of HorizonScan for the last five years, an on-line global food safety and risk application aimed at all areas of the food industry.

Maureen Wakefield - Business Development Manager

Maureen Wakefield has a PhD in biology from Newcastle University.  She is a research entomologist, with over 32 years’ experience, whose current research interests focus around integrated pest management of agriculturally important invertebrate pests and invasive species, and the potential use of insects as a novel source of protein for animal feed and other high value materials.  Main interests focus on: understanding insect behaviour, in particular with regard to detection and monitoring; insect chemical ecology, in particular the interaction between insects and naturally occurring attractants; the development of novel control methods, including the use of biological control agents such as parasitoids, predators and entomopathogenic fungi; research on insect rearing methodologies and nutrition.

Nikki Dalby - Business Development Manager

Nikki is a team manager in the Food Quality and Safety programme at Fera Science Ltd. With an MChem degree in Chemistry, Nikki has 15 years bench analytical chemistry experience gained in pharmaceutical analysis and R&D. Areas of work include stability and shelf life determination of pharmaceutical dosage forms, research and development of novel drug delivery systems and analytical method development and validation. Nikki now works in operations management and joined Fera in 2012.  

Dave McCutchion - Business Development Manager

Louise Byass - Fera Innovation and Research Specialist for SIAFS project

Louise Byass has a DPhil in plant molecular biology from the University of York, which was followed by a Post Doctoral Fellowship at the University of Alberta in Canada.  She also has a Certificate in Patent Administration.

Louise is responsible for overseeing development and protection of Fera Science Ltd’s intellectual assets, and managing the resulting intellectual property (IP) portfolio. She is closely involved with commercialisation of IP via licensing, new service development etc. She is a member of the Science Leadership Team at Fera, and leads the science commercialisation interest group.  As well as managing IP within Fera, Louise has extensive experience of managing IP in collaborative grant-funded projects and work undertaken on behalf of commercial customers.  In addition, Louise has previously managed a large collaborative project with the objective of identification and exploitation of new technology from within the partner organisations.  This project included a £1.5m proof of commercial concept fund.


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