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NRP Innovation Centre: New labs, offices open for business

11 August 2010

The NRP Innovation Centre is the first phase of the Norwich Research Park’s ambitious plans to create 5000 jobs in the next 10 years

More than 30 office and laboratory units have been constructed and fitted out in a totally refurbished and customised 4,215 sq m (43,000 sq ft) three-storey building, located on the NRP. The facilities have been designed to attract businesses working in science and science-related disciplines looking to grow in a world class science cluster.

The Norwich Research Park is Europe’s leading centre for research in food, health and environmental sciences. Nearly 3000 scientists are already based on the NRP in science research institutes, which include the John Innes Centre, Institute of Food Research, the Sainsbury Laboratory, the Genome Analysis Centre and the University of East Anglia, as well as a number of science and innovation businesses.

NRP Innovation Centre project chairman, Alan Giles, said: “The NRP Innovation Centre provides a first class working environment in one of Europe’s top science parks and we are looking to attract tenants from all areas of science throughout the UK, Europe and further afield. This investment underlines the economic value of research to the Norfolk and East of England economy.”

This month, the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is to move its microbiology service to the NRP Innovation Centre, in a development that strengthens the city’s European expertise in microbiology.

Anna Dugdale, Chief Executive of NNUH said; “Medical microbiology is a vital part of our hospital service as a provider of secondary and tertiary acute care. The diagnosis, prevention and care of patients with infectious diseases, acquired both in and out of our hospital, is a very high priority. The new laboratory reflects the importance we attach to this specialty and will allow us to continue to attract the very best technicians, scientists and clinicians.”

Medical director Krishna Sethia said: "The Norwich Research Park is already home to Europe's largest concentration of microbiologists but a missing part of the jigsaw has been expertise in medical microbiology. We are pleased and excited about the possibilities this move to the NRP Innovation Centre brings in terms of not only providing a continued high quality microbiology service for the hospital but also fostering more combined research and development that will unlock benefits to patients."

The NRP Innovation Centre complements the NRP-based Norwich Bio-Incubator (NorBio), a modern, world-class facility that already provides laboratory and office facilities for start up businesses, including national award winning companies, in a number of disciplines including forensics, ecology consulting, pharmaceuticals, genetics, science related publishing and other supporting services.

NRP Innovation Centre project co-ordinator, John Irving, added: “NorBio provides facilities for start up organisations. With the NRP Innovation Centre we can now offer larger premises for businesses at the next stage of their development. It will provide us with the strong foundations for positioning the Norwich Research Park as one of Europe’s first choice science parks for science entrepreneurs. There are already nearly 3000 scientists working on the NRP within a radius of just one kilometre, which demonstrates the concentration of expertise, underlined by the NRP’s world leading position in health, food and environmental science.”

Funding for the NRP Innovation Centre was provided by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), the East of England Development Agency (EEDA), The Greater Norwich Development Partnership, the University of East Anglia and the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

David Parfrey BBSRC Director of Finance, said: "The NRP Innovation Centre is a tremendous opportunity to enhance the science community that is concentrated in Norwich. Similar ventures associated with other BBSRC institutes have been highly successful and we are very confident that the NRP Innovation Centre will similarly boost the vibrancy and economic productivity of the world-class research base that exists at the Research Park. We expect that BBSRC's three institutes in Norwich will benefit greatly from the opportunity to use the Centre as the base for commercial enterprise from academic research.

"This is an excellent example of the value of partnership; BBSRC's contribution of the building to house the Centre is fairly modest but in partnership with other agencies we have been able to leverage the support to generate an extremely valuable resource. We have also created an situation where as public sector anchor tenants, we can ensure the future of a resource that will be of great benefit to small and medium enterprises."

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