Construction has started at NIAB EMR, as part of the £30m regional food-related ‘Growing Kent & Medway’ initiative, that includes new glasshouses, offices and labs built at the site in East Malling, Kent.
The investment will transform plant-based scientific research facilities across the South East and strengthen the competitiveness of Britain’s horticulture, food and drink industries.
£18 million of funding was secured from the Government’s Strength in Places Fund by NIAB EMR and is now being used to build upon more than a century of strategic and applied horticultural research undertaken at the site. This funding is complemented by a matching contribution from the East Malling Trust and commerce in order to deliver new modern research facilities and new science projects. This new infrastructure will maintain NIAB EMR’s global leadership in horticulture innovation with the new facilities expected to be completed by the end of 2021.
Professor Mario Caccamo, managing director of NIAB EMR, said: “Thanks to our success in securing funding from the Strength in Places Fund and the contribution of the East Malling Trust, we are now better placed than at any time in the last decade to helping producers rise to the challenge of climate change, reducing import dependency and improving the country’s food security.
“The state-of-the-art plant growth facilities will enable our scientists to accurately manage the cropping environment and test the response of fruit crops and novel technologies to help improve productivity, crop profitability and generate new skilled jobs across the sector.
“A big thank you must go to all those who have recognised the global significance of the work done here at East Malling.”
Thanks to earlier support secured from Local Growth Fund (SELEP), the team at NIAB EMR is currently delivering the Advanced Horticultural Technology Zone, including new science buildings, state-of-the-art glasshouses, an energy facilities and other related infrastructure.
Dr Oliver Doubleday, chair of the Board of the East Malling Trust, said “The delivery of this ambitious project follows our vision to see East Malling to continue to develop as a global innovation centre.
“The modernisation of the site was long overdue and will support the team at NIAB EMR to remain at the cutting edge of technology. We are very excited to be able to support this development and look forward to continuing our partnership with NIAB EMR to deliver world-class science at the service of the UK’s growers.”
Currently under construction, the new glasshouses will be used by the scientists to improve industry profitability by developing new varieties and improving plant health and resistance to disease by undertaking controlled trials in crop production, breeding pathology, entomology and plant health.
The Growing Kent & Medway project’s bid received the backing of local MP Tom Tugendhat, the South East Local Enterprise Partnership, Kent & Medway Economic Partnership, local councils, and Locate in Kent.