The Ella May Barnes building is ready to welcome organisations specialising in food, life and health science innovation

8 March 2021

The £5m Ella May Barnes building, providing state-of-the-art laboratories and workspace at Norwich Research Park, is complete and has been handed to South Norfolk Council.

It is designed to attract and provide space for organisations interested in joining the region’s growing food, life and health knowledge economy. The building, delivered by Big Sky Development, is expected to unlock further opportunities at the Enterprise Zone site that could lead to the creation of up to 150 jobs, adding to the community of 12,000 people that are already working at Norwich Research Park.

The new building has been named in honour of Dr Ella May Barnes OBE who, in the 1970s, was a leading microbiologist at the Norwich Food Research Institute, now the Quadram Institute. Today’s worldwide research into antibiotic resistance and food poisoning can be traced back to her discoveries. Dr Barnes subsequently worked on developing pioneering processes in commercial poultry production which encouraged a healthy microbiome in chicks that inhibited the growth of Salmonella, helping to make poultry products safer. Since then Norwich’s reputation has grown, and it is now a global centre of research into ways of combating food poisoning and antibiotic resistance.

South Norfolk Council has invested £2.75m in the 19,000 sq ft building and more than £550,000 towards the road infrastructure to open up the Enterprise Zone. New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has contributed £2.5m towards the building and £1.5m towards the road infrastructure work.

This continues the successful investment into new buildings, refurbishment of existing buildings and infrastructure made by the Partners of Norwich Research Park exceeding £150m over the last five years.

John Fuller, Leader of South Norfolk Council, said: “We are well prepared to turbocharge the local recovery having completed this premium building during lockdown. This investment will allow our global lead in genetics and other life sciences to extend still further, providing the space for careers and ideas to grow.”

Some of the LEP’s investment has been drawn from its Enterprise Zone Accelerator Fund, which in turn is funded through its £290m Growth Deal from the government. 

The Space to Innovate Enterprise Zone comprises 10 key sites across Norfolk and Suffolk, including part of Norwich Research Park. This multi-site zone will help to create 18,500 jobs over the next 25 years.

Chris Starkie, Chief Executive of New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “We’re delighted to have made this investment in additional space at Norwich Research Park, one of our region’s innovation and research assets. It’s wonderful that one of the Park’s leading scientists is also being celebrated through the building’s name. Our Space to Innovate Enterprise Zones deliver real benefits for businesses and projects like this one are helping to bring more jobs and growth to the area.”

Norwich Research Park has one of the largest single-site concentrations of research in food, health and life sciences in Europe and is internationally renowned.  David Parfrey, its Chief Executive, said: “Having more space for research on the Park is very much needed and we look forward to welcoming new organisations to our extensive scientific community.

“Not only does our Park host four world-leading research institutes, plus the UEA and Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, we also have a thriving business community that translates the science into real-life applications that positively change people’s lives both in the UK and across the globe. We have more plans to expand the Park’s footprint that will increase our contribution to the Norfolk economy and enhance future job prospects.”

Professor Ian Charles, Director of the Quadram Institute, said: “We are delighted that Dr Barnes and her work has been recognised in this way. Her pioneering research into food safety, gut microbes and antimicrobial resistance has left a legacy that we are proud to carry on in Norwich today.”

Mario Rackham, Director and General Manager at R G Carter, said: “It has been a pleasure to work with South Norfolk Council on this state-of-the art facility, which will greatly benefit the wider research community and a create a new home for future discoveries.”