Zeneca is pouring Pounds 50 million into the John Innes Centre in Norwich to develop genetically modified crops, writes Alison Goddard.
The money will pay for a new laboratory for 30 Zeneca scientists. The lab will also be used by up to 100 researchers funded mainly by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council. Work will begin immediately, and the building will be complete by 2000.
Zeneca introduced the first genetically modified product - a tomato puree developed with researchers at the University of Nottingham - to the United Kingdom in 1996. Researchers at the new lab will concentrate on developing wheat that has been genetically engineered to improve quality, yield and disease resistance.
The United States chemicals firm DuPont also announced a collaboration with researchers at the John Innes Centre last week. DuPont, which developed the gene gun, will provide other devices to researchers at the centre.
Mike Gale, who takes over as director of the John Innes Centre next week, said: "We have been working for some time with Zeneca and DuPont to design more substantial collaborative partnerships between academia and industry."
Meanwhile the universities of Exeter and Plymouth this week launched Western Biotech.
The Pounds 634,000 project aims to commercialise research performed at the universities and other higher education institutes in the Southwest.
Western Biotech is partly funded by the Department of Trade and Industry.