Minister for Life Sciences George Freeman today lit the touchpaper to a £26 million spending spree on globally influential new facilities at Norwich Research Park.
He opened a landmark new building in Norwich that will enable businesses to interact with the best scientific and research minds in areas such as food, health, energy and the environment.
The new £11.5m Centrum building will be the heart of innovation and enterprise at the Norwich Research Park, a leading hub of lifescience innovation that is undergoing expansion to bring jobs and major investment to the region.
The Minister also opened the Norwich Research Park Virtual Technology Centre, where pooled scientific technology platforms from research organisations on the park will enable ease of access for academics and businesses alike.
He also heard of plans for a £5m molecular farming facility. It will establish Norwich as a leading international centre for research and development in the use of plants to produce high value compounds.
The molecular farming facility is being developed from inventions made at the John Innes Centre by Prof George Lomonossoff and Dr Frank Sainsbury, BBSRC Innovators of the Year in 2012, and will make the technology and campus capability accessible to all, including commercial companies in the pharmaceutical and industrial biotechnology sectors, as well as academics from outside of the park.
The Centrum building, Virtual Technology Centre and future molecular farming facility are part of a substantial £26m project funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) to develop a thriving research and innovation campus, supporting start-up, early-stage companies and attracting inward investment from multinational corporate organisations involved in science and technology.
Freeman said: “The Government's continued investment in Norwich Research Park is helping to create and support a first-class innovation hub in the East of England based on world-leading bioscience. The science community will now be able to share access to this unique and specialist facility that will help to drive growth, foster innovation and support the Norwich, Norfolk and East Anglia life science cluster to create the jobs and businesses of tomorrow.”
The long-term public investment in the Park forms part of a strategy to invest in research and innovation campuses across the UK to create thriving innovation environments that maximise economic growth and impact from the UK’s world-leading bioscientists.
Dr Sally Ann Forsyth, CEO for Norwich Research Park said: “With the support of the BBSRC we have been able to create Centrum, a facility that embodies innovation, knowledge exchange and collaboration.
“We are committed to developing UK life science both here and within the international arena and our development plans for the Park, of which Centrum is a major element, will all contribute to this wider objective of bringing the UK's expertise in the life sciences sector to the fore.
“The investment in Centrum will help to create and nurture new companies and jobs based on world-leading life science, in addition to providing a fully supported central hub for the research and business community.”
Centrum offers flexible laboratory and office accommodation with a business centre, meeting rooms, restaurant and café.
As well as being a hub building for the Park and regions businesses, it will provide commercial space for early-stage, start-up companies in the appropriate sectors looking to locate onto the Park. It will provide a unique opportunity to work alongside world-leading researchers.
• PHOTOGRAPH SHOWS: The new £11.5m Centrum building. Photo credit: Darren Carter