New Cambridge Centre for Crop Science (3CS) set to be developed by the University of Cambridge in collaboration with NIAB

NIAB Chairman Jim Godfrey

NIAB Chairman Jim Godfrey - Credit: NIAB

A plant science research organisation hit by a hard-line stance by the EU Commission on Brexit is celebrating a multi-million pound boost.

The new funding will provide new laboratories, offices and glasshouses at NIAB Cambridge.

The new funding will provide new laboratories, offices and glasshouses at NIAB Cambridge. - Credit: Archant

Last month, NIAB, based at Cambridge, said the EU Commission’s negotiating position was causing collateral damage after it was told that future EU variety testing contracts commissioned directly by the Community Plant Variety Office (CPVO), and which might last beyond the envisaged Brexit date of March 30, 2019, would no longer be awarded to the UK.

But a new Cambridge Centre for Crop Science (3CS) is now set to be developed by the University of Cambridge in collaboration with NIAB following an announcement this week by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE).

The new centre, funded partly by £16.9m from the UK Research Partnership Investment Fund, will work with industrial partners to translate the university’s plant research into outputs for farmers, processors and consumers.

Last month, NIAB chairman Jim Godfrey called on UK ministers to safeguard the UK’s science base after a decision which affects work, valued at around £600,000 a year and carried out by NIAB on Distinctness, Uniformity and Stability (DUS) testing, which shows whether a newly-bred variety differs from existing varieties of ornamental crop species.

“The timing of this notification – without any prior consultation - came as a shock, not only because the UK is and remains a full EU member until the confirmed date of Brexit, but perhaps more significantly because NIAB is the only entrusted examination centre within the EU for 678 of the 864 ornamental species involved,” said Mr Godfrey.

Despite the setback, Mr Godfrey said Brexit presented exciting opportunities for the UK agri-tech sector, especially crop science.

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The 3CS is set to be housed in a state-of-the-art research laboratory at NIAB’s Cambridge site, where it will be led by a newly-appointed Professor of Crop Science.

The centre will involve researchers from plant sciences and other university departments, NIAB, the Cambridge Sainsbury Laboratory, and other UK and international research institutes.

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