Aberystwyth announces plans to create £35m innovation campus

The IBERS building at the Gogerddan campus

The IBERS building at the Gogerddan campus

ABERYSTWYTH UNIVERSITY have announced a planned investment of £35m towards the development of a new UK Innovation and Research Campus at Gogerddan.

Development of the new campus, which will be known as the Aberystwyth Innovation and Diffusion Campus (AIDC), has been made possible by a £14.5m investment from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) announced today (22nd July) by David Willetts MP, UK Minister for Universities and Science, at the launch of the UK Government’s Agricultural Technology Strategy.  

Contributions from other stakeholders, including Aberystwyth University, are expected to bring the total investment in this project to over £35m.

David Willetts said of the development: “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. This is vital for our economy and future food security which is why we are launching the Agri-Technology Strategy.”

BBSRC will invest up to £14.5m to help establish the world-leading Aberystwyth Innovation and Diffusion Campus for food and renewable energy and will be a key partner in delivering this ground-breaking project.

Of the total amount invested, up to £2.5m is earmarked for the development of the Pwllpeiran Upland Research Centre near Aberystwyth (subject to the final lease being agreed with Welsh Government) by the Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences (IBERS). Pwllpeiran has been a research centre since the 1930s, working to improve the viability of farming the uplands of Wales, and the development will concentrate on enhancing and improving upland agriculture through research based innovations, training and development.

New infrastructure and facilities will be developed to attract companies and researchers interested in creating commercially viable new products, based on modern approaches to plant breeding, enhanced by Aberystwyth’s unique natural resources and interdisciplinary capabilities.

IBERS at Gogerddan already houses the BBSRC and Welsh Government-supported £6.8m National Plant Phenomics Centre, which features the most advanced research greenhouse in the UK, which opened in May 2012.

The Gogerddan campus

The Gogerddan campus

Welcoming the announcement, Professor April McMahon, Vice-Chancellor of Aberystwyth University said: “This is wonderful news for Aberystwyth and for the University. We look forward to working in partnership with the BBSRC in delivering this superb project, building on our earlier and very positive experiences with the new IBERS buildings and the National Plant Phenomics Centre.

“The new campus will enhance our joint working with business, including accommodating start-up companies, and allow us to offer new interdisciplinary training. All these benefits are closely linked to the aims of our Strategic Plan, and will further develop the appeal of this exceptional part of Wales.”

Professor Wayne Powell, Director of IBERS at Aberystwyth University said: “This investment is a vote of confidence in the work we do here at IBERS, and will enable us to build on the heritage of this site and to further enhance our position as global leaders in translational agricultural research.

“Agriculture is the cornerstone of some of the major challenges facing society in the 21st century, and our vision is to convert these grand challenges of food, water and energy security into sustainable and prosperous opportunities for society, recognising that innovation in agriculture will play a critical role in fostering a knowledge based bio-economy”.

The Aberystwyth Innovation and Diffusion Campus will include a commercially focused training centre, and will enable numerous departments within the University to work with IBERS to develop the bio-economy on a local and global scale.

It will also involve an upland research platform for the UK, and a Public-Private-Producers-Partnership for Food and Energy Security built around an innovative, business facing plant breeding facility incorporating national capability for independent evaluation of new products.

Work on the new Aberystwyth Innovation and Diffusion Campus is expected to commence in 2014 and be completed by March 2015.