- Hub of commercial research and knowledge exchange reaches construction milestone
A state-of-the art research and development hub moved one step closer to completion today as constituency MP, funders and contractors gathered to complete the main structure of the new Centrum building on Norwich Research Park.
The new £11.5M building, funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and built by Morgan Sindall, is due to open in Spring 2014. It will form the hub of commercial research and development at the Norwich Research Park, a UK research and innovation campus and one of Europe's leading centres for research in food, health and the environment.
The Centrum building is part of a larger multi-million pound BBSRC investment in the Park to deliver innovation from the research base, new jobs and economic growth.
Steve Visscher, BBSRC's Deputy Chief Executive, said: "As this campus develops, it will continue to bring valuable jobs and further investment to the region. The Centrum building not only offers the opportunity to work alongside world-leading researchers, it will provide excellent facilities, scientific services and business support so that innovation can flourish."
Richard Bacon MP marked the occasion – known as the 'topping out ceremony' – traditionally by pouring a bottle of locally brewed beer onto the roof for good luck.
The recently-relaunched Lacons beer was chosen to highlight the power of bioscience; its reintroduction was only possible after scientists at the Park revived 'sleeping' yeast for the first time in more than 50 years. The yeast was part of the BBSRC-funded National Collection of Yeast Cultures, housed at the Institute of Food Research on the Park.
Dr Sally Ann Forsyth, Chief Executive Officer of Norwich Research Park said: "This topping out ceremony marks a significant milestone in the construction of Centrum and the Park development as a whole. I am very pleased to be able to mark this occasion with our constituency MP Richard Bacon and representatives from our project funders at BBSRC and construction company Morgan Sindall."
Having only joined the Park in September, Dr Forsyth added: "The Centrum is an important development for the region. It will provide a central home for knowledge exchange for not just organisations on the Park but also the wider local, national and international community. It will help us to develop the synergies between academics, start-ups and established companies and we look forward to the great opportunities that this will bring".
Gavin Napper, area director of the main contractor Morgan Sindall, said: "The topping out is the celebration of an important milestone; in this case, the ceremony for Centrum heralds the overall completion of the structural frame. The build programme has progressed very well to date. We join the entire project team in celebrating this milestone and are now pressing on for the final phase towards completion and formal handover."
Notes to editors
The ales were revived using the original Lacons yeasts, which had been kept in storage at the National Collection of Yeast Cultures (NCYC) at the Institute of Food Research (IFR). NCYC is a BBSRC-supported National Capability, holding over 4,000 yeast strains. Lacons deposited a sample of their brewing yeast in 1957, as a backup in case their own cultures got contaminated. NCYC still supply this service to today's breweries. In addition, NCYC's collection supports academic research that uses yeast as a model organism. NCYC and colleagues at the IFR are also delving into the diversity within the collection to look for yeasts that could be used in industrial biotechnology, for example generating second generation biofuels and other valuable chemicals from food chain waste.
The Lacons ales also have another link to the Norwich Research Park as they are brewed using Maris Otter barley, which was developed and released by the Plant Breeding Institute (PBI) in 1963 as the first high yielding, high quality malting winter barley for the UK. The PBI merged into what is now the John Innes Centre in 1987, but prior to that its work lead to the development of over 100 different crop varieties. Fifty years on and Maris Otter is still widely grown commercially as the barley of choice for real ale brewers. The John Innes Centre is carrying on the traditions of the PBI in pioneering the development of cereal germplasm that is higher yielding and more disease resistant to help make cereal crops better adapted for the 21st century.
About The Norwich Research Park
The Norwich Research Park is a partnership between the University of East Anglia, the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, four independent world-renowned research institutes namely the John Innes Centre, Institute of Food Research and The Genome Analysis Centre (all strategically funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)) and The Sainsbury Laboratory linked to the Gatsby Charitable Foundation. The BBSRC is itself a partner as is the John Innes Foundation.
The vision of the Norwich Research Park partners and local government stakeholders is to develop a thriving science and innovation business park over the next decade by supporting spin-out and start-up companies and through attracting inward investment from large corporate organisations involved in science and technology. The Norwich Research Park is home to around 30 science and IT based businesses.
With over 11,000 people including 2,700 scientists, Norwich Research Park is one of Europe's leading centres for research in food, health and the environment.
In 2011, the Government awarded BBSRC £26M to invest in Norwich Research Park to deliver innovation from the research base and generate economic growth and job creation. The investment will help to create and support new companies and jobs based on world-leading bioscience.
About Morgan Sindall
Morgan Sindall is a UK construction, infrastructure and design business with a network of local offices. The company works for private and public sector customers on projects and frameworks from £50,000 to over £1Bn. Activities range from small works and repair and maintenance, to the design and delivery of complex construction and engineering projects where it is able to provide specialist design, tunnelling, utilities, building, civil engineering and mechanical and electrical services. The company operates across the commercial, defence, education, energy, healthcare, industrial, leisure, retail, transport and water markets. Morgan Sindall is part of Morgan Sindall Group plc, a leading UK construction and regeneration group with revenue of over £2Bn and which operates through five divisions of construction and infrastructure, fit out, affordable housing, urban regeneration and investments.
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.