Work has begun on a new £1.4 million building on the outskirts of Cambridge dedicated to showcasing the benefits of plant genetic innovation in agriculture and industry.
Scientist and broadcaster Professor Heinz Wolff celebrated the start of the construction of NIAB Innovation Farm’s reception building, on NIAB’s Park Farm site near Histon, with a traditional sod-cutting ceremony.
“The new building will be the central venue for NIAB Innovation Farm’s programme of exhibitions, lectures, seminars and workshops,” said project leader Dr Lydia Smith. “It will include meeting and office spaces, and a show-garden that doubles as a meeting area and opportunity to display new plant varieties and species. It also places NIAB Innovation Farm’s field, glasshouse demonstrations and visitor venue all in one easily accessible location.”
Expected to be completed by spring 2013 the reception building has been designed to achieve the highest sustainability rating and zero-carbon balance in operation, using locally sourced and sustainable materials wherever possible.
Professor Wolff has a long and distinguished career in raising awareness and understanding of science. He praised NIAB Innovation Farm’s role in communicating the power of plant genetics in providing solutions to global challenges of food security and climate change.
Delivered in partnership with academics, scientists and the food and farming industry, NIAB Innovation Farm has become an important demonstration and technology transfer platform for the UK farming and food supply chain, and with nearly 1,500 visitors since opening in late 2010.
NIAB CEO Dr Tina Barsby said “Established with support from the NIAB Charitable Trust NIAB Innovation Farm has a wide remit to educate and inspire. In early 2012 the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) awarded funding to develop an interactive hub linking science and industry, highlighting developments in plant research and transferring market-ready innovations into commercial reality as rapidly as possible, supporting and assisting small businesses in the East of England. The new building is part of this process and we look forward to it opening in the spring.”
George Kieffer, Deputy Chair of the Local Management Committee of the ERDF programme in the East of England, said: “I am very pleased that the European Regional Development Fund is supporting this exciting new centre which will enable over 300 small businesses to work and engage with plant science researchers and universities to develop and to demonstrate innovation in plants and crops and the initiative will lead to 50 jobs being created or safeguarded. The ERDF programme in the East of England has a specific focus on low carbon economic growth and so I am particularly impressed by the fact that the building will showcase the use of natural materials and products in the way it is being built, that the building will achieve an ‘outstanding’ BREEAM rating and also that it will be carbon neutral in operation.”
NIAB Innovation Farm is dependent on grants, sponsorship and donations to support its work in communicating the benefits of plant sciences as widely as possible. There are opportunities available for businesses and individuals to show their support and get involved with NIAB Innovation Farm at www.innovationfarm.co.uk.