Agricultural Innovation Centre for Soham

oilseed17:44 Friday 2nd May 2014
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

[C]HRIS MANN: It’s been announced that a multi-million pound agricultural innovation centre is coming to Soham. £500,000 has been awarded from the Eastern Agri-tech Initiative. Let’s find out more now from Grahame Nix. Hi Grahame.
CHRIS MANN: Chief Executive of the Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough Enterprise Partnership. So tell us, what does it do?
GRAHAME NIX: The innovation centre was part of the Eastern Agri-tech Initiative that the LEP bid for from the Regional Growth Fund, and we were successful in bringing £3.2 million in for investment. And part of that was to create an innovation centre to encourage growth in the agricultural sector, which is really important in our area. And today we’ve been able to announce the half million pound of investment that we’re able to put in to encourage that centre to take off.
CHRIS MANN: So it’s a bit like the science hub that’s at Addenbrookes near Cambridge.
CHRIS MANN: This is one for agriculture.
GRAHAME NIX: This is one for agriculture. So it’s another research opportunity, so it picks up very much on our research heritage in this area. But it also picks up on the important Government initiative that’s come out around the agri-tech sector. Our area is one of the most important agricultural centres in the country. We have a huge research base between both Cambridge and research in Norwich. We have innovative farmers, and what we’re trying to do is put them together, and to encourage improvements in productivity, reductions in waste. And this centre which we announced today will be part of that process. It will be a focal point for people to come together and do interesting research in that area.
CHRIS MANN: How long will it take to get up and running, and before we see the effect of it?

GRAHAME NIX: Well the money’s come forward now. They should start developing the site in July, so very quickly. And I think the aim will be to get the site up and running towards the end of this year, early next year.
GRAHAME NIX: Jobs, there are 77 new jobs coming out of this process. There are 15 apprenticeships coming out. And so it’s NIAB who are leading the research scheme, it’s a site owned by G’s. They’ll be developing the site and bringing in those jobs.
CHRIS MANN: I know that there’s actually £1.76 million over three years for the whole thing ..
GRAHAME NIX: That’s correct.
CHRIS MANN: .. so it’s very impressive indeed. Why Soham?
GRAHAME NIX: Well we had two innovative bids from our area for this, one from Fenland based at Chatteris, and the one based at Soham. Both were interesting and exciting. In a competitive process you always get one winner, and this scheme impressed us with its ability to deliver in the long term, . And the research programme NIAB have put together with its partners seems to us to have huge potential to go forward. Al though I must say that we were really impressed with the Fenland scheme, and we are looking, through different mechanisms and different funds that the LEP have, and hopefully in the future we’ll be able to also bring that to fruition.
CHRIS MANN: Let’s hear about that when it happens. Graham, thank you so much.
GRAHAME NIX: It’s been a pleasure.
CHRIS MANN: Grahame Nix.