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Barr Ellison Solicitors – commercial property
9 July, 2021 - 21:37 By Tony Quested

UKRI cash for world-leading plant and microbial research hub in Norwich

The John Innes Centre and The Sainsbury Laboratory have been awarded £1 million to progress plans to develop a world-leading plant and microbial research hub on the Norwich Research Park.

The award, announced by UK Research & Innovation (UKRI), is part of a £50m investment in more than a dozen science and innovation infrastructure projects and scoping studies.

Together the world leading research institutes are building a case for capital investment in the hub as the centrepiece of this vision. The £1m award will enable the early-stage concept designs to progress and will speed up work streams that have been delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Director of the John Innes Centre, Professor Dale Sanders said: “This is the next step on our journey to provide a new home for the John Innes Centre and The Sainsbury Laboratory in Norwich, securing our place as a global interdisciplinary hub for plant and microbial sciences.

“The funding will enable the next stage of design development, allowing us to finalise the concept design of the new infrastructure, and to further our plans to be energy self-sufficient and carbon net-zero into the future.”

Executive Director of The Sainsbury Laboratory, Professor Nick Talbot added: “The Sainsbury Laboratory and John Innes Centre share a commitment to securing a safer, healthier and more sustainable future through the power of plant and microbial science. The new facilities we are planning will enable us to be at the very cutting edge of biological research with seamless integration of structural, analytical and cell biology facilities and the latest approaches in artificial intelligence and machine learning. It is an exciting prospect.”

If the full project is ultimately taken forward, following this concept design phase it will produce a number of significant gains, namely it will:-

  • Create the infrastructure for a global interdisciplinary hub for plant and microbial sciences on the Norwich Research Park
  • Integrate capabilities for plant genetics, genomics, pathology and phenotyping alongside field trial facilities to address global research challenges
  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture through understanding plants, microbes, and plant-microbe interactions, and delivering genetic crop improvement strategies
  • Develop clinical treatments and dietary interventions to improve human health

The UKRI infrastructure fund represents the first portfolio of investments to come from UKRI’s Infrastructure Roadmap programme to boost the UK’s research and innovation capabilities. It marks the first time UKRI has a long-term strategic approach to infrastructure across all research disciplines.

The projects span the research and innovation spectrum. They include: A boost to the world’s largest and most sensitive radio telescope network; carbon capture technologies; a state-of-the-art airborne research laboratory and a £17m investment in digital research infrastructure.

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