The growing strength of East Anglia’s science sector

The growing strength of East Anglia’s science sector

The growing strength of East Anglia’s science sector

UEA Science UEA

Over the centuries, East Anglia has produced its share of agricultural pioneers in the field.

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Turning academia into businessA £5m project is under way to bridge the gap between academia and big business, translating world-leading research to an industrial scale.Leaf Systems, due to open in 2017, will use work carried out at the John Innes Centre to create vaccines and medicines using plants.While the technique is now used around the world, reproducing it on the scale needed for business is another challenge.Prof George Lomonossoff has helped to launch the Leaf project, which will be housed in a purpose-built 10,000 sq ft building at the park, which aims to commercialise the research.He said: “Over the last 10 years we have developed a system which is quite widely used across the world with which we are able to produce all sorts of different products such as proteins like antibodies and vaccines.“The problem has been we are only able to do it on a laboratory scale. We had some companies interested but we have always come up against that barrier.”Leaf Systems aims to unlock the business potential of the science and take it to a mass market. Prof Lomonossoff added: “I proposed that we needed a facility to bridge that gap – to take academic work to a larger scale. The research should be the beginning of industrial development.”

From Turnip Townshend to Coke of Holkham, their creative thinking brought about a farming revolution.The setting may have changed, but the dedication to innovation has not, with world-leading work now taking place in the region’s laboratories.And scientific research is a growing force in our economy: this week East Anglia’s life-sciences strength will form a key part of a pitch to potential investors at the MIPIM UK property showcase.At Norwich Research Park, the number of science-based businesses has almost doubled in the past year, along with the number of jobs in the sector.
Professor George Lomonossoff, with the Nicotiana benthamiana plants , that he is working on at the John Innes Centre, to develop vaccines. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY
Already more than £100m a year is invested in ground-breaking research at Norwich Research Park, supporting 3,000 highly skilled jobs.The park has developed what it calls a “research to revenue” path for developing breakthroughs commercially – and has plans for significant growth, with industry leaders telling of commercial heavyweights eyeing up Norwich as a centre for investment. It comes as the first city-wide Norwich Science Festival launched yesterday at The Forum, with two weeks of events putting science in the region in the spotlight.Dr …

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