Oli Hilbourne

Outfield Technologies Logo

Outfield Technologies

Twitter: @outfield_xyz

Before setting up Outfield Technologies, I worked at Marshall Airspace and Defence Group in Cambridge. This was the result of a lifelong interest in aerospace, technology and essentially anything that challenged the human expectation of what is possible – particularly, the use of technology for positive change. My career at Marshall’s lasted several years; as an engineer, I was able to explore the ins and outs of aircraft moderation, which was hugely exciting for me. However, as technology continued to develop beyond the supposed limits of aviation: manned aircrafts, to drone technology and robotic aviation; my ideas for what was possible continued to grow.

My main motivation continues to be seeing real life impact of technology on the world – it can often have a bad reputation, but that is when it isn’t used to create positive impact. For example, you can design a revolutionary new social media platform with all of the latest functionalities, but what does this really mean for society or the world? So, as technology continued to advance, so did the realms of possibility for positive change. I began to think about society as a whole, and the areas within it that could be supported or enhanced through the use of technology, specifically drone technology. It soon became obvious that there was one area that, despite the entire world relying on it, had remained fairly untouched by the benefits of technology, and that was agriculture. So, alongside Jim McDougall, my Co-Founder, we set up Outfield Technologies in order to change this.

Outfield Technologies is an agri-tech start-up that is building a crop management tool for fruit growers, farmers, orchards, and agriculturists. Agriculture presented us with a fantastic opportunity to improve a range of issues in the real world; making a significant positive impact on the environment and global food security as well as having commercial benefits. Even small increases in agricultural efficiency could allow us to have a significant impact when applied on a global scale. Our end goal from the start has been to develop a product, or technology, which could support the agriculture industry, make it more efficient, or improve its impact on the environment. If we did this, we knew we would be able to have a tangible impact on the world.

There was a lot of research and development needed from the day the company was founded, and it was not until 2018 that we first became aware of REACTOR and the support that it could offer us, which is what we needed to launch our product into the next phase of development. Through REACTOR, we were able to utilise its match funding grant, meet a huge range of innovative and like-minded entrepreneurs in the local area, and also showcase Outfield Technologies at REACTOR’s annual showcase event to interested start-ups and potential investors. It was interesting to learn about the concept of gamification through REACTOR, which we have grasped the concept of for use in our pitches and demonstrations of the product – the reward to our customers being a more intuitive platform and an improved agriculture process with cost efficiency. Our experience with REACTOR, which began towards the end of 2018, ties with our most promising year of Outfield Technologies to date.

Looking to the future, we will shortly be trialling and testing our first full scale product, which estimates the yield of apple orchards in early 2020. This will allow us to be ready for full deployment to the UK market by the next apple season – at which point, farmers across the UK will be able to benefit from the improvement of efficiency that our technology will enable. As the climate continues to become ever more unpredictable, technology that can analyse and predict yields will become ever more important. We are starting with apple orchards in the UK and South Africa, but we’re already seeing demand for our technology to be used worldwide for the global benefit of everyone.