A unique £6.8 million NIAB project has secured EU funding to improve the transfer of innovative plant science from research laboratories through to commercial markets.
NIAB Innovation Farm has been awarded a £2.7 million grant from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), with additional match-funding coming from industry and academic partners.
The initiative, based at NIAB in Cambridge, demonstrates how plant resources and crop genetic improvement can help address the major global challenges of food security, climate change and resource conservation together with improvements in health and nutrition.
The new funding will help develop an interactive commercial hub linking science and industry, highlighting developments in plant research and transferring market-ready innovations into commercial reality as rapidly as possible. The project will also benefit from the building of a sustainable low-carbon visitor centre.
NIAB Innovation Farm will also continue to provide an important demonstration and technology transfer platform for the UK farming and food supply chain, allowing visitors to understand the genetic progress taking place aimed at improving the quality and performance of major food crops, and exploring the market potential of other novel and non-food crops.
“NIAB Innovation Farm will broker connections between small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) engaged in the use and production of plant-derived or plant-based materials with the research and innovation generators, such as universities, research organisations and large businesses,” says project leader Dr Lydia Smith.
The ERDF funding aims to improve productivity, within the East of England, by helping industry to move innovation forward into the marketplace, initialising and improving links between companies which in turn will create and safeguard jobs.
Communities Minister Baroness Hanham CBE said: “I am delighted that this project will help at least 300 smaller companies create innovative and more sustainable solutions to our future food needs by engaging with this region’s world-class plant science base, and more than 90 years of experience, at NIAB and NIAB Innovation Farm.”
NIAB Innovation Farm has already attracted nearly 1,000 visitors since it opened in 2010, with field and glasshouse demonstrations, a Visitor Centre, an online presence and themed exhibitions and workshop events.
However, the current facilities are stretched out across the entire NIAB Cambridge site. The new funding will support the move in 2013 to a single permanent and integrated site at NIAB’s Macleod Complex, which includes the novel visitor centre building, an air-conditioned, multi-compartment demonstration glasshouse and an extensive series of field demonstrations.
Notes for editors:
Part of the National Institute of Agricultural Botany, based in Cambridge, NIAB Innovation Farm is a living, year-round showcase of innovation in agriculture and horticulture. It demonstrates how plant resources and crop genetic improvement can help address the major global challenges of food security, climate change and resource conservation while enhancing health and nutrition.
NIAB Innovation Farm exhibits in 2011 included: fibre and oil crops; potato blight resistance; maize diversity; biomass crops; alternative proteins; the Smart Carbohydrate Centre; adaptive wheats; environmental biodiversity.
The Department for Communities and Local Government is the managing authority for the European Regional Development Fund Programme which runs from 2007 to 2013. This is one of the funds established by the European Commission to help local areas stimulate their economic development.
The European Regional Development Fund (European Regional Development Fund) is making a real difference to people and businesses in the east of England. With €110.9 million to invest between 2007 and 2013, European Regional Development Fund is enhancing the competitiveness of the region’s economy by supporting growth in enterprise and employment. The programme in the east of England has a theme of low carbon economic growth with the following priorities:
• Priority 1 - Promoting innovation and knowledge transfer to improve productivity, to encourage commercialisation across the region's research and development base, and establish energy efficient and clean technologies.
• Priority 2 - Stimulating enterprise and supporting successful businesses by overcoming barriers to business creation and expansion, improving access to finance for business and supporting the development of social enterprises.
• Priority 3 - Ensuring sustainable development, production and consumption by working with communities (both urban and rural) to support local jobs and business growth.
For further information contact:
Dr Lydia Smith, NIAB Innovation Farm
T: 01223 342242
M: 07809 086766
E: lydia.smith [at] niab.com
Claire Pumfrey, NIAB Innovation Farm
T: 01223 342482
M: 07762 702197
E: claire.pumfrey [at] niab.com
Ros Lloyd, Communications Manager, NIAB
T: 01223 342313
M: 07711 568164
E: ros.lloyd [at] niab.com