Bright ideas from scientists collaborating on the Norwich Research Park could get vital investment towards commercialisation thanks to a new £1.82M 'Proof of Concept' Fund backed by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and the Norwich Research Park.
The integrated Norwich Research Park fund will enable early-stage investments to allow researchers to bring their ideas and inventions from the research stage to commercial or wider application much more quickly. Projects with potential wider societal impact, as well as those with a commercial pathway to application, will be supported.
Researchers will be able to apply for up to £30,000 to take their research projects out of the lab and bring them to market by attracting investment from commercial companies.
Chair of the Norwich Research Partners LLP, Anthony Habgood, himself a leading industrialist, said: "The impact that this fund will have on the Norwich Research Park community and beyond could be substantial. It will enable more people with good ideas to turn their concepts into reality, deliver real benefits to wider society and help to build on the Park's growing reputation as a leading research hub."
Prof David Richardson, pro-vice-chancellor for research and engagement at the University of East Anglia (UEA), said: "This huge financial injection will bolster Norwich's position as an international centre of excellence for cutting edge research and innovation. We are very pleased to be working with the BBSRC and Norwich Research Park Partners to take forward this opportunity to translate our world-class science research into the ideas, products and processes that will drive both the local and national economy forward. It will help us address some of the grand challenges such as food security, the aging population and diminishing fuel reserves," he added.
George Nobbs, Leader of Norfolk County Council and Cabinet Member for Economic Development, said: "Contributing to this strategically important programme will kick-start the opportunities to create world class businesses from the world class research at the Norwich Research Park - we simply cannot afford to pass up on this major opportunity"
BBSRC is investing £860,000 in the project, a figure which will be match-funded by contributions from the University of East Anglia, the John Innes Centre, the Institute of Food Research, Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, The Genome Analysis Centre and The Sainsbury Laboratory, alongside £40,000 from Norfolk County Council and £20,000 each from Norwich City Council, South Norfolk Council and the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership.
This funding will establish an integrated three year programme to fund projects across the Research Park, with preference for those that include cross-Park collaboration
The scheme, initiated by UEA and managed by the Norwich Research Park, will help with prototype development, technical feasibility studies, commissioning market assessments, and strengthening the intellectual property position of their ideas.
Steve Visscher, Deputy Chief Executive of BBSRC, said: "BBSRC is committed to enabling and supporting the achievement of the widest benefit to society and economy from the excellent bioscience research and capabilities in which we invest.
"In addition to £26M for new infrastructure at the Park, BBSRC is also supporting, with Norwich Research Park Partners, researchers to take their science towards application. This funding will make the most of ideas arising from research across the Park and enable these to progress and deliver results that drive innovation and growth."
The £26M project funded by BBSRC to kick-start the commercial development and expansion of the Norwich Research Park is currently underway. Research Park development over the next twenty years is hoped to create in the region of 5,000 new jobs and will make the Research Park more attractive to investors, businesses and a world-class workforce.
About Norwich Research Park
The Norwich Research Park is a partnership between the University of East Anglia, the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, four independent world-renowned research institutes namely the John Innes Centre, Institute of Food Research and The Genome Analysis Centre (all strategically funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)) and The Sainsbury Laboratory linked to the Gatsby Charitable Foundation. The BBSRC is itself a partner as is the John Innes Foundation.
The vision of the Norwich Research Park partners and local government stakeholders is to develop a thriving science and innovation business park over the next decade by supporting spin-out and start-up companies and through attracting inward investment from large corporate organisations involved in science and technology. The Norwich Research Park is home to around 30 science and IT based businesses.
With over 11,000 people including 2,700 scientists, Norwich Research Park is Europe's leading centre for research in food, health and the environment.
In 2011, the Government awarded BBSRC £26M to invest in Norwich Research Park to deliver innovation from the research base and generate economic growth and job creation. The investment will help to create and support new companies and jobs based on world-leading bioscience.
For more information please visit: www.norwichresearchpark.com .
BBSRC invests in world-class bioscience research and training on behalf of the UK public. Our aim is to further scientific knowledge, to promote economic growth, wealth and job creation and to improve quality of life in the UK and beyond.
Funded by Government, and with an annual budget of around £500M (2012-2013), we support research and training in universities and strategically funded institutes. BBSRC research and the people we fund are helping society to meet major challenges, including food security, green energy and healthier, longer lives. Our investments underpin important UK economic sectors, such as farming, food, industrial biotechnology and pharmaceuticals.