Minister opens World Class Innovation Centre and hears about world-leading science

18th July 2011

The NRP Innovation Centre at the Norwich Research Park (NRP) provides offices and laboratory facilities for science and technology businesses at the heart of a major science cluster. Today (18th July 2011) the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, Dr Vince Cable, officially opened the Innovation Centre in the presence of regional business, political and scientific guests.

Later, the Secretary of State saw aspects of the exciting science underway at NRP, where IFR was represented by Dr Reg Wilson, Head of Innovations at IFR. Within the NRP Innovation Centre, he was also toured the lab space of Model Gut, a business unit based on IFR science owned by Plant Bioscience Limited (PBL).

The Secretary of State’s visit included a tour of The Genome Analysis Centre (TGAC), the Biotechnology & Biological Sciences Research Council’s newest Institute. The Director, Professor Jane Rogers described TGAC’s latest sequencing technologies and introduce some of their projects demonstrating the application of genomics to BBSRC’s research priorities.

He also heard about NRP’s national and international impact, with new initiatives in China, SE Asia and Brazil as well as in Europe and North America.

Business Secretary Dr Vince Cable meets Dr Reg Wilson

Business Secretary Dr Vince Cable meets Dr Reg Wilson

Business Secretary Vince Cable said: “I’m delighted to open world class science and research facilities such as this, which will be vital to the UK’s economic growth and will help ensure our future competiveness.

“This Innovation Centre will put Norwich Research Park firmly on the map as one of the world’s top science parks. Together with the investment from Government announced in the Budget, it underlines the importance of commercialising research and fostering relationships between academics and industry.”

Alan Giles, Director of the Norwich Research Park, said: “We are very pleased to welcome The Right Hon. Dr Vince Cable to the NRP Innovation Centre today, for its official opening. The NRP Innovation Centre plays a vital role in expanding the NRP’s role as one of the UK’s leading centres of excellence in scientific research. It marks the first phase of the creation of 5000 new jobs in the science and research sector based on expansion of the Norwich Research Park over the next 10 to 15 years. By providing world class facilities for expanding businesses and research organisations, we shall be able to attract more and more businesses from around the world to the NRP, creating high quality employment in the future.”

Professor Douglas Kell, Chief Executive, BBSRC, said: “We are proud to be a partner in the Norwich Research Park Innovation Centre, which is officially opened today. This facility will play a key role in supporting BBSRC-funded researchers and others in the East of England region to ensure that their discoveries can lead to new products, technologies, services, and advice that is of social and economic benefit to us all. The Norwich Research Park is already home to three world-class institutes that receive strategic funding from BBSRC. This concentration of excellent research has helped to attract a proposed additional £26M from government to develop the site further. This will ensure that the Norwich Research Park continues to provide an intellectual and commercial environment that supports new and sustainable industries and the creation of the Knowledge-Based BioEconomy.”

Dr Vince Cable meeting Richard Faulks of the Model Gut and Dr Martin Stocks of PBL

Dr Vince Cable meeting Richard Faulks of the Model Gut and Dr Martin Stocks of PBL

David Parfrey, the BBSRC’s Director of Finance, and Chairman of Colney Innovations Ltd., said: “The NRP represents a unique partnership between world-class research institutes, which receive strategic funding from BBSRC; the University of East Anglia; the Norfolk & Norwich University Hospital; local authorities, who have been very supportive; land owners; EEDA and, going forward, the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership.  This level of co-operation is of great value and will ensure NRP’s future as a focus for excellent science and business.

“The NRP Innovation Centre is the first of a number of new buildings planned on the NRP, which can only bode well for the economy of Norwich and Norfolk and promises to make a real impact on UK plc.”

Deborah Cadman, Chief Executive of the East of England Development Agency said: “NRP is one of the largest concentrations of bioscience research activity in Europe.  EEDA funded and supported the NRP Innovation Centre because it strengthens Norwich as a major science city and supports the development of bioscience – a future growth sector. It will bring high-value jobs, increased commercialisation and innovative science and technology companies to the region. EEDA has been investing in NRP since 2002, and has provided funding to several different projects and institutions aimed at helping businesses exploit the world class scientific expertise that exists at NRP.”  

John Irving, project co-ordinator at the NRP Innovation Centre, said: “Since the complete refurbishment of this building in 2010,  the NRP Innovation Centre has generated a very encouraging response and interest from businesses and organisations located everywhere from the East of England to overseas, all keen to locate on the NRP. We are able to offer an excellent scientific environment, world class facilities and access to a unique range of expertise, all within a one kilometre radius of the building, which is a very compelling proposition. We expect a number of new tenants to be moving in over the course of the next few months, and are already ahead of our first year target.”

Professor Edward Acton, Vice-Chancellor of the University of East Anglia, said: “We are delighted to be associated with the NRP Innovation Centre, which chimes well with the University’s commercialisation ambitions. Our Low Carbon Innovation Centre and InCrops, based at the University, will be among the first tenants to move into the building. This underscores our commitment to the Centre and to the future of science and innovation in Norwich.”