The United Kingdom government announced a major cash boost for Rothamsted Research, as part of its new Agri-Technology Strategy. This investment from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) will help develop the Rothamsted Research campus into a Centre for Research and Enterprise
The funding for Rothamsted Research forms part of a wider £30M investment to drive economic growth from UK agri-science, announced by the Minister for Universities and Science David Willetts during the launch of the government’s Agri-Technology Strategy. This new BBSRC investment is aimed at creating an environment where unique facilities and world-leading agri-science can be accessed by private enterprise.
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, the UK’s main funding agency for research in the life sciences and the largest single public funder of agriculture and food-related research, will invest up to £8.2M towards the delivery of a shared resources hub at Rothamsted that will enable multidisciplinary interactions between industrial and academic scientists. In addition to this, up to £2.7M will also help to deliver a new Rothamsted communications and conference centre. Support will also be provided by the Lawes Agricultural Trust and 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 investment will facilitate economic growth, job creation and wellbeing by nurturing innovation and the translation of excellent agri-science into real life applications. It will also seek to generate new investment to the local community as well as provide state-of-the-art conferencing facilities for local business and enterprise to use. The internationally renowned Rothamsted Research will continue to be the focal point of this Centre.
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."
Stephen James, associate director, Operations at Rothamsted Research said: "I am delighted by this significant commitment from the Government to invest, not only in UK science but also into our local community in Harpenden and St. Albans. Rothamsted's two new buildings will bring a major new asset to the locality, in particular providing state-of-the-art conferencing and meeting facilities for local business, enterprise and the wider community. Rothamsted has been an integral part of the local community for nearly two centuries and this continued investment will enhance this strong and proud tradition. Rothamsted is also a major part of the new St Albans Green Triangle initiative, which pulls together a specialist green businesses as a cluster underpinned by local centres of environmental excellence. This will help support not only the local economy, but also has wider significance as we develop global technologies and play our part in delivering the UK growth strategy."