East Anglia: New agri-tech cluster ‘set to unlock millions of pounds of investment’
10:27 09 October 2013
An agri-tech cluster taking in a wide corridor of farming communities and businesses in Suffolk, as well as Cambridgeshire and Norfolk, is set to revolutionise agriculture, a launch event will hear on Friday.
The new Norwich - Cambridge Agri-Tech Cluster is aimed at linking the world-class research capability within the two cities with the world class growing land and food and farming sectors in the neighbouring rural areas.
Alongside the launch of the cluster organisation, more details of the successful £3.2m Regional Growth Fund bid, made jointly by the two Local Enterprise Partnerships, Cambridgeshire and Norfolk County Councils will be revealed.
The Regional Growth Fund award will give businesses across the eastern region the opportunity to benefit from millions of pounds of investment and is available to relevant organisations based in Suffolk, Norfolk, Cambridgeshire, Peterborough, Rutland, Uttlesford and North Hertfordshire.
While the cluster refers to the two cities, the cluster corridor from Cambridge to Norwich is very wide and will involve adjacent farming communities and businesses in Suffolk.
Speakers at the launch, to be held at the NIAB Innovation Farm at Histon, Cambridgeshire, will include Lord David Sainsbury , who is Chancellor of Cambridge University, and Norfolk MP George Freeman, life sciences adviser to the Government who co-ordinated the development of the UK Agri-tech Strategy, supported by Professor Mike Bevan of the John Innes Centre at Norwich Research Park, an independent, international centre of excellence in plant science and microbiology. The fund will help support small and medium businesses as well as provide investment for prototyping to turn ideas into reality. The money will also go to build a new translation centre where scientists and farmers can work together on new projects.
The unique attributes of the region leave it well placed to be at the forefront of developments in crop science which could in time help to solve the global problems of food security, as well as providing new jobs and skills for people across the region, those behind the cluster say.
The cluster is designed to bring the lab to the land and mirror the success of existing cluster organisations such as the Cambridge Network and One Nucleus.