Government gives Norwich Research Park £5.5m

The John Innes Centre, which will share £5.5m of government cash with the Institute of Food Research. Photo: Mike Page The John Innes Centre, which will share £5.5m of government cash with the Institute of Food Research. Photo: Mike Page

Wednesday, December 18, 2013
12:01 AM

The government will today announce a funding boost that enhances Norwich and Norfolk’s role at the heart of cutting-edge science research.

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The egde-of-Norwich Institute of Food Research (IFR) and John Innes Centre (JIC) will share £5.5m over five years to co-direct four of 13 new networks for industrial biotechnology and bioenergy.

It is the latest vote of confidence for the work being carried out at the Norwich Research Park at Colney, which is making an international name for itself.

The aim of the funding is to make the UK a world leader in industrial biotechnology.

The technology offers a more sustainable and ‘green’ future, more efficient manufacturing and a shift away from fossil fuels and petrochemicals towards renewable materials. It has the potential to bring major economic benefits to the UK including the creation of new jobs in the bioeconomy.

Prof Anne Osbourn from the JIC said: “To produce products on a large scale and in a sustainable way, we need to find alternatives based on our improved understanding of how useful chemical and materials are made in nature.”

Prof Keith Waldron said: “The Norwich Research Park is home to a huge amount of interdisciplinary research that is needed to develop new, greener technologies, but we need support from networks such as these to turn them into reality.”

Each network brings together academic scientists, technologists and industrialists from multiple UK institutions and companies, so that emerging discoveries and opportunities in biological science can be translated into innovative industrial outputs.

Universities and science minister David Willetts said: “To get ahead in the global race we need to turn our world-beating science and research into world-beating products and services, as set out in our industrial strategy.

“These networks will unlock the huge potential of biotechnology and bioenergy, such as finding innovative ways to use left over food, and creating chemicals from plant cells.”

The networks include:

■ The High Value Chemicals from Plants Network, which will promote the industrial application of the vast range of chemicals found in plants

■ The Food Processing Waste and By-Products Utilisation Network, which will use modern scientific approaches combined with emerging biorefining techniques to turn vegetable and fruit trimmings into a range of useful chemicals

■ The Natural Products Discovery and Bioengineering Network, which will accelerate the industrial application of valuable chemicals from microbes

■ The Glycoscience Tools for Biotechnology and Bioenergy Network, which will build on recent advances in knowledge about the synthesis and properties of carbohydrates.

Each network includes funds to support a range of small research projects, to demonstrate potential benefits for industries. The networks will then work with industries to investigate these research challenges further.

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