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The Agri-Tech industry in the East has welcomed news that the Eastern Agri-Tech Initiative has launched two new funds today (16th January 2014).
Over £2.5m of funding has been made available to provide a significant boost to the food production, agriculture industry and research cluster thanks to the Government’s Regional Growth Funding scheme.
The funding will be used to invest in new market and supply chain development, essential skills training, and the progression, application and commercialisation of Research and Development across the Eastern area.
There are two separate funds available for businesses based in Cambridgeshire, Norfolk, Suffolk, Rutland, North Hertfordshire and Uttlesford. The first is the £2m Agri-Tech Growth Fund, which will provide grants of between £25,000 and £150,000 to support improvements in agricultural productivity. Whilst the £540,000 R&D and Prototyping Fund will provide grants of between £10,000 and £60,000 to support the development of innovative technology.
Mark Reeve, Chairman of the Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and the Eastern Agri-Tech Initiative Programme Board, said: “These funds will enable local businesses to access much-needed funding to develop cutting-edge products and processes. Our area is at the forefront of innovation within the emerging UK Agri-Tech industry, with innovation supported by some of the richest farmland in the country. We therefore believe that our area is ideally positioned to become a global trailblazer in this field, creating both jobs and significant economic growth. To help this vision to become a reality I would encourage businesses to find out more about how these two funds could help support their future aspirations.”
Andy Wood, Chairman of the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership said: “Agriculture, Food and Life Sciences is a key sector for Suffolk and Norfolk, with world class R&D focussed at Norwich Research Park and dozens of leading companies large and small.
“We have knowledge, expertise, creativity and skills. However, through the Agri-Tech grants, we also have the funding which could provide the financial investment companies need to turn their concepts into products and accelerate their business growth. This is a really exciting opportunity for companies across Suffolk, Norfolk and the region.”
Cambridgeshire County Councillor Mathew Shuter, Cabinet Member for Enterprise and Skills, said: “This is an exciting opportunity to put Cambridgeshire as well as Eastern region companies at the forefront of developing and benefitting from Agri-Tech. Cambridgeshire holds some of the best brains in farming and science as well as the best research facilities and growing land in the country. There is a long history in Cambridgeshire and the region of cutting-edge Agri-Tech research such as the NIAB facilities where the Norwich-Cambridge Agri-Tech Cluster was officially launched. This is a great chance to marry these things together and boost farming as well as our Agri-Tech industry.”
Colleen Walker, Cabinet Member for Economic Development at Norfolk County Council, added: “It is great news for our farming businesses, and those that support the wider agriculture sector. The County Council will be doing all it can to encourage and support businesses to apply and I am sure this will lead to new employment, especially in rural areas.”
The initiative brings together the wide array of existing world class capabilities in crop and food research, technology, engineering and manufacturing that already exists between Cambridge and Norwich, with the grade one agricultural land and production capabilities in Cambridgeshire, Peterborough, Norfolk, the Fens and Suffolk. Strengthening an already significant cluster, this initiative will help the Agri-Tech sector to evolve for future success and growth.
A partnership led by the Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough Enterprise Partnership (LEP) with Cambridgeshire County Council, New Anglia LEP, Opportunity Peterborough, Norfolk County Council, District Authorities, WLP, with additional input from NIAB-TAG, Sainsbury Laboratories, John Innes Centre, Genome Centre, Hethel Innovation, NRP, University of Cambridge, University of East Anglia, local MPs and others, secured the funding last year and have since been busy developing the grants programme.