CHANGES have been made to this year's Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland Technical Innovation Awards to encourage further entries in the exceptional circumstances.

RHASS announced this week that the deadline for entries for judging has been extended – and the usual £100 entry fee has been dropped.

These long-running awards showcase inventions and innovations that demonstrate a positive impact on agriculture, horticulture, equestrian, forestry, renewable energy and estate activities, and have historically brought to light many once ground-breaking developments that subsequently became mainstream.

Entries for this year's awards will now be open until May 8, via the RHASS website. Judging will be completed online and winners will be informed in June, and then winners promoted through an extensive PR and digital marketing campaign. A formal presentation of awards will be undertaken at Ingliston House after the Covid-19 restrictions have been lifted.

Commenting on the value of the awards, Beth Fenney from last year’s Gold winner Kverneland Group Klepp, said: “RHASS’ Technical Innovation Awards are without doubt a prestigious accolade to receive. Winning allowed us to showcase the product to a wide audience and helped us communicate the clear benefits its brings to customers.

“Unlike many awards, the Technical Innovation Awards recognise both new products, with the Silver award, and then the benefits to customers after three years of commercial use with the Gold award. This allows the initial idea to be awarded first, before enabling customers to provide feedback on the product before it receives a Gold," said Ms Fenney.

“The awards are easy to enter – it's only one form to fill in and then it’s a case of sending any additional information about the product such as videos, brochures and images for the judges to review. I would highly recommend entering.”

Entries for the Royal Highland Technical Innovation Awards are given to machine, appliances, technical components or important ancillary equipment. The equipment should demonstrate a positive benefit to agriculture and/or agricultural business, horticulture, equestrian, forestry or estate services and they should be available to purchase or prototypes in development.

RHASS Chief Steward of Technical Innovation, Christopher Shepherd, said: “We are pleased to be in a position to make entering the awards free in light of difficult trading conditions for many manufacturers. We hope that by extending the deadline more organisations will find the time to enter as, if successful, being an award-winner offers a valuable way to achieve a clear marketing advantage.

“The Technical Innovation Awards are a highly influential accolade to promote new ideas as well as an acknowledge of the work and commitment necessary to develop new products. The benefits to a business are significant and I would encourage as many manufacturers as possible to enter.”