New agricultural research hub for Soham given the go-ahead

12:19 07 May 2014

Dr Tina Barsby

Dr Tina Barsby

Archant

The growing agri-tech industry will have a new home in Soham linking the pioneering research work of Norwich and Cambridge following a £500,000 investment.

Tina Barsby and David Neill from NIAB (the National Institute of Agricultural BotanyTina Barsby and David Neill from NIAB (the National Institute of Agricultural Botany

The Eastern Agri-Tech Initiative, created by the Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and partners, has awarded the funding to the Agri Gate Research Hub following a competitive bidding process to develop a new innovation centre.

The hub seeks to strengthen the local area’s position as a leader in the field of agri-tech and is part of a planned £1.76m investment into the new scheme over the next three years.

Overall, the project will create 77 new jobs, 15 apprenticeships and safeguard 148 jobs, with further growth across the industry as a result of the research undertaken at the Hub. Work is due to start on the G’s Group owned site in July and be completed before the end of the year.

The project, led by NIAB (the National Institute of Agricultural Botany), is designed to bring back into use an existing building at Hasse Fen, to provide a unique facility for farmers and growers, food businesses, schools and colleges and other users to complete applied research work to reduce waste in the food chain and improve production efficiency.

The research hub will provide space for such research work, in-field crop research capacity and modern meeting facilities.

Tina Barsby, from NIAB, said: “The new Agri Gate Research Hub will provide our industry with the facilities it needs in a sustainable and successful research facility located in the heart of the Fens.

“The research work that will be undertaken will range from seedbed preparation, varietal selection, and plant spacing, right through to harvesting, processing, packaging and processes. It will create opportunities for technology transfer by housing pilot and field scale research projects that are vital to the future of our industry.”

Mark Reeve, Chairman of the Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and the Eastern Agri-Tech Initiative Programme Delivery Board, added: “The Eastern Agri-Tech Initiative brings together two world-class research clusters in Cambridge and Norwich coupled with the richest agricultural land in the country.

“By investing in the hub we are providing space for projects to develop and grow, with the end focus on creating new jobs in the future. This is a significant step forward towards securing our position as global leaders in the sector.”

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