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Norwich crop researchers aim to break down barriers between science and industry

PUBLISHED: 15:12 02 February 2018 | UPDATED: 15:12 02 February 2018

Dr Franziska Kellner talks about her work with Leaf Expression Systems as a trade delegation visits Norwich Research Park. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Dr Franziska Kellner talks about her work with Leaf Expression Systems as a trade delegation visits Norwich Research Park. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

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Norwich scientists will aim to build closer links with industry by highlighting the ground-breaking research, technology and collaborative opportunities at the John Innes Centre (JIC).

The city’s world-renowned base for crop and plant research will host its first Science for Innovation Showcase next week, on February 7 and 8.

The programme features more than 20 presentations by JIC scientists, giving visitors from a range of industries a snapshot of the discoveries made at the Norwich Research Park – and a chance to discuss the opportunities they might present for companies seeking to collaborate on future developments.

The presentations will be grouped under four headings: Plant health, designing future wheat, molecules from nature, and genes in the environment.

Prof Dale Sanders, director of the JIC, said: “The aim of the showcase is to offer our knowledge to companies who are seeking new routes into science and new technologies; companies who are looking for the opportunity to collaborate on future plant and microbial science developments.”

Dr Belinda Clarke, director of Agri-Tech East, added it was vital to break down any barriers between scientists and industry to enable productive collaborations.

“The expectations of industry and academia can sometimes be out of sync, but when they come together the impacts can be tremendous,” she said.

The Norwich Research Park, which leads the world in plant and microbial sciences through the research of the John Innes Centre, Sainsbury Laboratory and the University of East Anglia, is home to 80 companies and 12,000 employees including 3,000 scientists and clinicians.

One of the enterprises which will feature at the showcase is Leaf Expression Systems. The spin-out company, which launched in January 2017, uses “Hypertrans” technology developed at the JIC to rapidly produce proteins such as vaccines, antibodies or enzymes in fast-growing plants.

These proteins can be extracted and purified to give the desired product, and the speed of the process means it is well-suited to providing large quantities in response to health emergencies like a disease pandemic.

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