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Over £30M investment to drive economic growth from UK agri-science

Over £30M investment to drive economic growth from UK agri-science - 22 July 2013

Minister for Universities and Science David Willetts has announced over £30M of investment in the latest boost for UK research and innovation campuses. The announcement was made by the minister during the launch of the Government's Agri-Technology Strategy. The new investment, from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), is aimed at creating an environment on each campus where unique facilities and world-leading agri-science can be accessed by private enterprise.

The BBSRC investment will see new facilities created across the UK in four different campuses, at some of Britain's most renowned and well-known agricultural research institutes. The investment projects will facilitate economic growth, job creation and wellbeing by nurturing innovation and the translation of excellent agri-science into real life applications.

The BBSRC funding is for the development of UK research and innovation campuses at Easter Bush (Edinburgh), Aberystwyth and Rothamsted (Hertfordshire). Funding has also been provided to further develop the Norwich Research Park. Each campus is centred on a critical mass of world-leading bioscience, strategically supported by BBSRC, providing a unique environment where growing bioscience-based companies can access specialist facilities and exchange ideas with leading researchers.

Minister for Universities and Science, David Willetts, said: "Britain has the potential to be world-leading in agricultural science and technology, yet our productivity growth has dropped significantly in the past 30 years. These leading edge campuses will help reverse that trend by getting our researchers and businesses working together to commercialise their ideas. This is vital for our economy and future food security which is why we are launching the Agri-Technology Strategy."

BBSRC Chief Executive, Professor Douglas Kell, said: "Research and innovation campuses are hot spots - for world-class research, training, facilities, infrastructure and innovation. BBSRC investment in the campuses, alongside our partners, provides the means for start-up companies, SMEs and industrial partners to access our science and equipment and to forge links with researchers and other companies. Through building unique environments at each campus we are supporting research institutes and private enterprise to grow companies and generate new jobs."

"This latest round of investment builds on successful campus projects, worth £70M, at the Babraham Research Campus and a first phase at the Norwich Research Park. Substantial previous investment at the Pirbright Institute is also creating the potential for future campus-type developments there as well.

"I am pleased that on the day the Government launches the Agri-Tech Strategy that we are able to invest in campuses associated with some of our leading agricultural research institutes - Rothamsted Research, The Roslin Institute at Easter Bush, IBERS at Aberystwyth and the John Innes Centre and the Institute of Food Research at Norwich."

Funding breakdown:

Aberystwyth Innovation & Diffusion Campus

BBSRC will invest up to £12M to help establish a world leading agri-innovation campus for food and renewable energy. The funding will provide new infrastructure and facilities to attract companies and researchers interested in creating commercially viable new products, based on modern approaches to plant breeding. Contributions from other stakeholders, including Aberystwyth University, are expected to bring the total investment in this project to over £35M. BBSRC has also earmarked up to £2.5M to develop the 'Pwllpeiran Upland Research Centre'.

Rothamsted Centre for Research and Enterprise

BBSRC will invest up to £8.2M towards the delivery of a shared resources hub that will enable multidisciplinary interactions between industrial and academic scientists. Up to £2.7M will help to deliver a new communications and conference centre. Support will also be provided by the Lawes Agricultural Trust and sought from other sources to provide a total project investment of up to £25M in the first instance. The Rothamsted Centre for Research and Enterprise signals the beginning of an expansion plan for the current facilities at Rothamsted Research to encourage more science, business and enterprise to flourish at this world-class facility. The internationally renowned Rothamsted Research will continue to be the focal point of this Centre.

The Easter Bush Campus

BBSRC will invest up to £5M towards the delivery of an incubator building, designed to support the successful development of entrepreneurial companies and part of the Easter Bush Innovation Hub. The Scottish Government has also announced £10M additional funding towards realising the vision of the Easter Bush Campus.

Norwich Research Park

BBSRC will invest up to £2.5M towards the delivery of a pilot facility for the development and production of industrially relevant molecules in plants. This new money will build on the work already underway at Norwich Research Park following a previous investment from BBSRC of £26M to help create and support new companies and jobs based on world-leading bioscience.

ENDS

Notes to editors

For a copy of the Agricultural Technologies Strategy contact the BIS press office. From Monday it will be available online at: www.gov.uk/government/organisations/department-for-business-innovation-skills/series/industrial-strategy-government-and-industry-in-partnership

About BBSRC

BBSRC invests in world-class bioscience research and training on behalf of the UK public. Our aim is to further scientific knowledge, to promote economic growth, wealth and job creation and to improve quality of life in the UK and beyond.

Funded by Government, and with an annual budget of around £467M (2012-2013), we support research and training in universities and strategically funded institutes. BBSRC research and the people we fund are helping society to meet major challenges, including food security, green energy and healthier, longer lives. Our investments underpin important UK economic sectors, such as farming, food, industrial biotechnology and pharmaceuticals.

For more information about BBSRC, our science and our impact see: www.bbsrc.ac.uk.
For more information about BBSRC strategically funded institutes see: www.bbsrc.ac.uk/institutes.

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