The James Hutton Institute has welcomed the signing of the heads of terms of the Tay Cities Deal, which is expected to bring a £700 million investment into Tayside and Angus and create 6,000 direct jobs in the area.
Included within the funding announcement are the International Barley Hub (IBH) and the Advanced Plant Growth Centre (APGC) research and innovation projects which are set to receive £62m in total, making projects under the Securing our Food Production Capability the highest-funded part of the Deal.
These two initiatives will create industry-focused and commercially viable innovation centres in Tayside and will further strengthen the Institute’s research in plant science.
Welcoming the news, Professor Colin Campbell, Chief Executive of the James Hutton Institute, said: “The City Deal is a huge vote of confidence in Tayside. Both projects we are involved in represent significant investment in the future of this region, in key sectors for the regional and national economy and have the potential to unlock substantial economic benefits. Our governments, industry partners and colleagues across academia were instrumental in achieving this outcome and we owe them and the City Deal teams many thanks.”
James Brosnan, Director of Research at the Scotch Whisky Research Institute, commented: “The confirmation that the International Barley Hub has been given the go-ahead in the Tay Cities Deal is great news for Scottish science and will help ensure the continued success of the Scotch Whisky industry which relies on a resilient supply of high-quality malting barley.
“I am particularly excited by the opportunity the IBH offers to encourage talented young scientists from many different disciplines to devote their research skills to a career in barley science.”
IBH is an ambitious development which seeks to create a unique platform for the translation of barley research and innovation into economic, social and environmental benefits. It will support an industry worth £600m to the UK economy each year and turn a more streamlined and joined-up approach into commercial benefits for the entire brewing, whisky and food value chain.
The APCG is a new research facility, designed to deliver increased commercial, economic and environmental benefits to the global food and drink sector.
Professor Campbell added: “The APGC will also see the development of new crop varieties and improve the quality and taste of existing crop species. In doing this we have the potential to better secure our food supply chains against climate change and lower the impact on the environment.”
Describing the potential impact of the APGC initiative, Technical Manager Allan Wilson from Waitrose said: “The James Hutton Institute has an outstanding track record in plant breeding which puts them ahead of other UK players.
“This, for me, makes the Advanced Plant Growth Centre an exciting opportunity which will put Scotland in a dominant position within this emerging market, that others will struggle to match. This innovation will provide faster, more dedicated, vertical growing/breeding and commercialisation benefits to many sectors such as vegetables and soft fruits.”
It is hoped that both projects will be fully established with infrastructure within three years. Both centres have already embarked on ambitious ‘soft starts’ to allow early delivery of collaboration, information-sharing and cross-fertilisation of ideas between project partners and the sectors involved.