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World Leading Innovation in the East of England

08 June 2023

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The East of England is a world leader of innovation in green energy, technology, and life science. Whilst Cambridge is an internationally known location, other places in the East, such as Norwich Research Park, Adastral Park (in Ipswich) and Orbis Energy (Lowestoft) are also supporting the creation of new technologies and helping drive innovation in the region.

The Eastern Powerhouse and Anglia Innovation Partnership, the science park management entity at Norwich Research Park, are hosting an event to discuss Innovation in the East of England, on Friday 9th June. The event follows ‘hot on the heels’ of the publication of a new study commissioned by the Government Office for Science (GOS) which highlighted Norwich Research Park as one of the 12 modern industrial biotechnology clusters around the UK, and the East of England as a hotspot for biotechnology adoption and commercialisation.

The term ‘Modern Industrial Biotechnology’ refers to the non-human life science sector and includes a diverse range of sub-sectors. These include: agribiotech; commercial genomics for well-being; animal health; and underpinning technologies and platforms. The UK, and the East of England, is recognised for having world leading research in this area with modern industrial biotechnology firms accounting for a total turnover of £4.7 billion.

Norwich Research Park is a large science park campus which provides access to higher-level skills, as well as opportunities to collaborate and win global business. With four research institutes, a teaching hospital and a top 20 university, these institutional assets work together to form a powerful cluster of activity, specialising in food biotech, agricultural biotech, and industrial biotech, applied to the effects of climate change and improvements to human health.

Tropic and Colorifix are two examples of the rapidly growing companies on Norwich Research Park. Tropic accelerate the speed of natural breeding techniques to develop improved varieties of tropical crops that are easier to cultivate and healthier for people and the planet. Colorifix use microbes to produce dyes for the textiles industry in a more sustainable way. A 2022 impact report showed their process used 77% less water and 80% less chemicals than conventional industrial dyeing.

Anglia Innovation Partnership drive the Park’s enterprise strategy which supports researchers to commercialise their research and create spin-out businesses. Companies like MVPea and PulseON are examples of small companies that are using research from the institutes on the Park to develop healthier food-based products. There are also companies to support the business activity, like recruitment for science related job roles or software development to support data collection and analysis in research trials.

There are several broad areas in which these highly innovative firms have strengths that can be developed into a competitive advantage for the UK in a global market. However, a number of sectors, like modern industrial biotechnology, have relatively low success rates in the commercialisation and scale-up of related technologies. This is in part attributed to infrastructure, skills and the availability of venture capital – factors which are holding back many other emerging sectors in the UK and is especially the case in the East of England.

As the UK lags behind other developed nations the government’s decision to create a department focused on innovation is a positive move. Partners in the East of England would welcome the opportunity to work with the new Science, Innovation and Technology Department to develop a long-term strategy for investment in the region.

To see a summary of the event, watch our video on youtube.

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