Science Minister celebrates £26M investment at Norwich Research Park

24 March 2011

The Minister for Universities and Science, the Right Hon. David Willetts MP, visited Norwich Research Park (NRP) today, following the Budget announcement by Government and the Biotechnology & Biological Sciences Research Council which will see £26M invested to deliver innovation from bioscience at Norwich Research Park.

Welcoming him, Alan Giles, NRP Director said "We are delighted with this strong endorsement by government, which will underpin the transformation of the NRP from 'World-Class Research Centre' to a 'National Research Campus' embracing a world-class commercial science park". University of East Anglia Vice-Chancellor Edward Acton echoed this saying he was "Delighted by the vote of confidence that will attract additional investment and generate new jobs".

In his address to staff, local government, business and economic stakeholders, David Willetts said "This new investment recognises the value of our excellent research base and proves the UK science industry is very much open for business. The extra spending will help drive innovation and growth and reflects our commitment to cutting-edge research."

Dr Jane Rogers was able to show David Willetts around The Genome Analysis Centre (TGAC), BBSRC's newest Institute of which she is the Director, where she described TGAC's latest sequencing technologies and introduced some of their projects demonstrating the application of genomics to BBSRC's research priorities.

Professor Dale Sanders (Director, John Innes Centre) with Dr Simon Griffiths discussed the application of genomics to crop improvement and food security.

John Fuller, Leader of South Norfolk Council commented that "Innovations from Norfolk have a history of feeding the world; the four-course-rotation of the 18th Century has been updated for the 21st Century. Local Councils had a big hand in getting the ball rolling with TGAC funding and that effort has been repaid 100-fold with this investment - great for local taxpayers and fantastic for Norfolk!"

Among the scientist-entrepreneurs meeting David was Dr Michael McArthur co-founder and Research Director of Procarta Biosystems, a spin-out from NRP-partner, the John Innes Centre. Dr McArthur is the 2010 BBSRC Young Innovator of the Year. The winners of the 2011 competition will be announced later today at BBSRC's 'Bioscience for Growth' networking event where leading universities, business, industry, investors and policy-makers will hear about the latest developments in translating research into commercial and other impacts. Professor Keith Waldron from NRP-partner the Institute of Food Research is one of the finalists.

With over 2,700 scientists working on the Norwich Research Park (and more than 11,000 staff in total), it already has one of Europe's largest single-site concentrations of research in food, health and environmental sciences. The NRP is also home to a growing number of scientific and IT based companies.

Laura McGillivray, Chief Executive Officer of Norwich City Council commented "This investment is excellent news for the Research Park and for Norwich; we have always believed that Norwich was on the tipping-point of the knowledge-economy. This will give us a boost and places us firmly as a leading city in terms of the wider knowledge-economy and research."