Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg has said it is vital to invest in Norwich’s life science industries in order to “resurrect” the British economy.

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Speaking to the Eastern Daily Press from his party’s conference in Brighton, Mr Clegg said the UK had a “cutting edge advantage” in life sciences in part due to work carried out at the Norwich Research Park (NRP).

His comments follow £90m of government investment at NRP this year; a commitment which the deputy prime minister said should be built on in the future.

He said: “I really do have to pay tribute to [ministers] David Willets and Vince Cable. I think they have done superb work and that’s reflected in Vince’s recent industrial strategy, to firmly identify life sciences as one of those areas where Britain has a cutting edge advantage.

“The fact that we have protected science and research funding from many of the other savings we have had to make in public spending is an illustration of how much we value this part of the growing economy, and the centre in Norwich is a first rate example of it.”

He added: “It is one of those gems of the British economy.”

The life sciences sector includes agricultural science, research into animal and plant genes, biomedicine, including genetic science and pharmaceutical research, and the energy sector.

The money for NRP earlier this year included £19m for The Genome Analysis Centre, £29m for the Institute of Food Research and £42m for the John Innes Centre.

The East’s importance was underlined by the appointment of Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman as government life sciences advisor this month.

Mr Clegg said: “These companies in these sectors are doing extraordinarily well. We need to build on them and help them grow because they really are part of the new British economy which we are trying to resurrect from the rubble of the old.

“One of the things that we’re doing in this government is to wean the country off an over-reliance on financial services in one part of the country and towards more balanced growth, balanced geographically and balanced sectorally, in the future.

“The life sciences pay a vital part of that.”

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