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26 February, 2019 - 09:45 By Kate Sweeney

Rothamsted grows office space by 60 per cent

World-renowned agricultural research institute Rothamsted Research has responded to soaring demand by planning to massively increase capacity of its innovation facilities for business through 2019.

The newly named Rothamsted Agritech Business Centre will increase in size by 60 per cent from April to accommodate companies wishing to join the 21 already based at the Institute’s Harpenden headquarters. The centre is increasing the floor space available to businesses from 22,305 sq ft to 35,395 sq ft.

Nicole Sadd, the executive director of Rothamsted Enterprises who run the Agritech Business Centre – along with the Conference Centre, Restaurant, and Manor House venue – said it was an  exciting time for both the Rothamsted campus and the region.

“We’ve reached a real critical mass now and that’s attracting business from all over the world. The Hub is thriving, and both the companies on-site and the Institute’s scientists are benefiting from being able to share ideas, knowledge and facilities.

“It certainly helps being attached to perhaps the best-known agricultural research centre in the world. When you include our on-site conferencing facilities, our transport links, and our proximity to London, it’s made us attractive for anyone looking to start up a business in this sector.

“When you also factor in the rise of the Green Triangle partnership, and the Hertfordshire Innovation Quarter Enterprise Zone, the county is fast becoming the nexus for smart ideas in the fields of sustainability, farming and food production.”

Businesses with a presence at Rothamsted range in size from startups and SMEs right through to established international agribusiness such as Gowan Crop Protection and Timac Agro.

AgriTech innovation is booming in the UK, with the sector worth over £14 billion to the UK economy, so as well as having scientists and businesses on site, Rothamsted Enterprises also has the investors flocking.

“Being able to bring world leading researchers together with exciting visionaries and disrupters is crucial for the UK’s innovation sector,” says Sadd. “Add in a number of investors, and Rothamsted really is at the centre of this new ‘food web’.”

These collaborations are already bearing fruit, with several tenants forging links with scientists based at the Institute.

Nicole Sadd

Babwe Barton Enterprises, which specialises in capturing energy and emissions expelled from air-conditioning units and heating systems, has forged several such links, according to CEO Christopher Barton.

“Our technology recovers pollutants converting them into other useful chemicals, and energy, which is turned into electricity.

“We’ve also been working with some Rothamsted scientists, testing the particulates that are captured and establishing whether they are usable for commercially viable products such as fertiliser.”

Alongside the Business Centre, Rothamsted Enterprises also runs the on-site Rothamsted Conference Centre, which held over 1400 events and welcomed 52,000 delegates through its doors last year.

Rothamsted Manor, the 17th century, Grade I listed manor house, is now used as a venue for weddings, VIP receptions and other special events.The Rothamsted Restaurant, which has been open to the public for two years, is also going from strength to strength, with over 40,000 sales in 2018.

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