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Science minister David Willetts, left, is shown round the labs by Jane Rogers, director of the Genome Analysis Centre, during his visit to the John Innes Centre. With them is Prof. Edward Acton, vice chancellor of the UEA.; Picture: Denise Bradley
By richard wheeler
Saturday, December 29, 2012
A government minister insists funding will continue for a Norwich research base predicted to have a huge role in helping the world feed itself.
Norwich Research Park (NRP), which houses a cluster of 30 companies, received a £90m grant from the government earlier this year to be split among the Genome Analysis Centre, the Institute of Food Research and the John Innes Centre.
And David Willetts, universities and science minister, has given assurances in parliament that cash will continue to be provided to NRP.
Business and farming leaders have welcomed Mr Willetts’ words and say the work being carried out in Colney Lane, Norwich, will play an increasingly important role in the future.
Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman, when raising NRP in parliament, said: “The rising world population means that by 2050 we will need to double world production, albeit with half as much water, land and energy.
“Does the minister agree that British agricultural science, not least at the Norwich Research Park, has a potentially huge role to play in helping the world to feed itself?
“May I welcome the agricultural science strategy and ask that it looks to draw in as much investment from around the world into Britain’s science base as possible?”
Mr Willetts replied: “This is an area where British science has a lead. We have already invested more in the Norwich science park, which I visited with my honourable friend, and we will continue to do so as part of our industrial strategy.”
Clarke Willis, chief executive of Anglian Farmers Limited, said politicians were starting to realise the potential of NRP.
Mr Willis added he believes most farmers back the work at NRP.
He said: “I think very often when something is on your doorstep, you don’t appreciate it. What we have got at Norwich Research Park is basically a cluster of world-leading scientists who are developing products and techniques that will revolutionise agriculture.”
Caroline Williams, Norfolk Chamber of Commerce chief executive, said: “It’s good to see continued investment in NRP as it has significant potential to not only bring in jobs in the research park but the whole supply chain that it supports.”