Gloucestershire to get £100m centre for innovation

Royal Agricultural University

A Gloucestershire university has unveiled a £100m plan to create a business park aimed at the sustainable food production sector.

The Royal Agricultural College in Cirencester is planning to create a community of entrepreneurs and policy makers at the new campus.

Plans for the new Innovation Village include research and education facilities, space for start-up companies, live and work units, as well as a hotel and conference centre.

The university says it will be working with local residents, companies and organisations to shape the proposals.

The plan is to submit a planning application to Cotswold District Council by the end of the year.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter McCaffery said: “This is a first for Gloucestershire – and indeed the UK – we are delighted to be working with the support of Cotswold District Council, GFirst Local Enterprise Partnership, Gloucestershire County Council, and the Department for International Trade to establish a rural Innovation Village here at the RAU, the UK’s global agricultural university.

“A £100m project, centred on supporting industry, food producers, farmers and landowners in developing new innovative practices while protecting land health and building resilience in rural communities, our Innovation Village will turbo-charge SME agri-tech enterprise activity with a distinctively rural feel.

“We anticipate we will increase the RAU’s current contribution of £52m to the local and regional economy by half as much again over five years when the project is up and running.”

The university says the Innovation Village has the opportunity to have a global impact and will address issues such as climate change, sustainable land use and food production, biodiversity loss, and heritage management.

The project  has won the backing of the Department of International Trade, Gloucestershire County Council, and GFirst Local Enterprise Partnership.

Tony Dale, Cotswold District Council cabinet member for the economy and transformation, said: “Growing the local economy in a sustainable way, and bringing high-quality jobs and careers for young people, is a key priority for the Cotswolds so we are happy to see this sort of innovative project coming forward in the district.”

Ruth Dooley, chair of GFirst, said: “This mixed-use scheme, adding to the RAU’s reputation as a global centre of excellence in agriculture, food, and land management, will be a major boost to the economic development of Gloucestershire.

“Through fostering the emergence of new start-up companies and supporting the growth of scale-ups, as well as being a magnet for inward investment from elsewhere in the UK and overseas, this exciting innovation village will provide many new job opportunities across a range of subjects.

“It will also help in the delivery of new skills needed to tackle the challenges of food security and sustainable land management.”

The design of the campus is being led by Architype from Passivhaus Architect and will be carbon neutral.


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