It is hoped that the investment, announced by David Willetts yesterday, will drive economic growth in the UK, where the funding will be distributed between four research centres.
Aberystwyth Innovation & Diffusion Campus, Rothamsted Centre for Research and Enterprise, The Easter Bush Campus and Norwich Research Park will each receive a slice of the investment which will nurture innovation and the translation of agri-science into real-life applications.
Speaking at East Malling Research Station, part of a consortium which recently received £800,000 from the BBSRC, Willetts said: “Britain has the potential to be world-leading in agricultural science and technology, yet our productivity growth has dropped significantly in the past 30 years.
“These leading edge campuses will help reverse that trend by getting our researchers and businesses working together to commercialise their ideas.”
The universities and science minister announced the investment alongside the launch of the £160 million Agricultural Technologies Strategy – a scheme designed to transform farming in the UK and makethe country a world leader in addressing global food security issues.
Lord De Mauley, the minister for science in the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, said: “We face a global challenge to feed the rapidly increasing population in a way which is affordable and sustainable.
“We are investing in technologies that will enable British farmers to meet these challenges and take advantage of the growing demand in export markets for British food.”
The strategy sees a £90 million investment in world-class Centres for Agricultural Innovation that will support the adoption of technology and innovation, as well as £60 million in an “Agri-Tech Catalyst” that will support small- and medium-sized businesses bridge the “valley of death” between the laboratory and the marketplace.
A further £10 million has been earmarked to support the transfer of new technology and products to developing countries. A partnership between Rothamsted and Syngenta to increase wheat productivity was also announced.
Douglas Kell, chief executive of BBSRC, welcomed the strategy, and said:“This strategy clearly highlights that the government recognises the potential of agriculture as a business sector to support economic growth, job creation and support global food security.
“BBSRC will continue to invest in world-leading researchers, universities and institutesto ensure the UK has the skills and capabilities to drive advances in bioscience which are essential if we are to fulfill the aims of this new strategy and find sustainable solutions to tackle the major global challenges facing us all.”