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9 October, 2013 - 07:53 By News Desk

New agri-tech cluster brings lab to the land

Lord David Sainsbury

The UK is set to grab a European lead in promoting agricultural science & technology with the launch this Friday of a new Norwich-Cambridge AgriTech Cluster.

The multi-million pound initiative is designed to bring the lab to the land in an unprecedented move to harness the power of science and technology to boost agricultural productivity.

The cluster is aimed at linking the internationally renowned research capability within the two cities with the world-class growing land and food & farming sectors in the adjacent rural areas.

Prime movers in the initiative say the cluster will help unlock millions of pounds of investment and revolutionise agriculture.

The new cluster will be given a heavyweight send-off at the NIAB, Innovation Farm in Histon. Speakers include Lord David Sainsbury, Chancellor of Cambridge University, and Norfolk MP George Freeman – Life Sciences Advisor to the Government who co-ordinated the development of the UK Agri-tech Strategy.

They will be supported by Professor Mike Bevan of the John Innes Centre at Norwich Research Park, an independent, international centre of excellence in plant science and microbiology.

Alongside the launch of the cluster, more details of the successful £3.2m Regional Growth Fund bid – made jointly by the two Local Enterprise Partnerships, Cambridgeshire and Norfolk County Councils – will be revealed.

The Regional Growth Fund award will give businesses across the eastern region the opportunity to benefit from millions of pounds of investment.

The fund will help support small and medium businesses as well as provide investment for prototyping to turn ideas into reality. The money will also go to build a new translation centre where scientists and farmers can work together on new projects.

The unique attributes of the region leave it well placed to be at the forefront of developments in crop science which could in time help to solve the global problems of food security, as well as providing new jobs and skills for people across the region.

Major players believe the cluster can mirror the success of existing organisations such as Cambridge Network, One Nucleus, Cambridge Wireless and Cambridge Cleantech.

• PHOTOGRAPH SHOWS: Lord David Sainsbury

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