Barn4, a purpose-built Cambridge agritech incubator that will give start-ups access to sector specific expertise and laboratory facilities is to be co-located on the NIAB Park Farm site in Histon. Tenants will gain access to the recently redeveloped Park Farm field research station, which includes two new large research and office buildings and state-of-the-art research glasshouses.
NIAB (The National Institute of Agricultural Botany) was founded in 1919 with a mission to provide independent science-based research and information to support, develop and promote agriculture and horticulture; helping the industry to fulfil its potential in supplying food and renewable resources, while respecting the natural environment. Her Majesty The Queen is NIAB’s patron.
NIAB also supports the Eastern Agri-Tech Innovation Hub, where a number of companies with expertise in controlled environment agriculture and the circular economy are based.
The Barn4 development is supported by £2.5 million funding from The Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority, and will be open to tenants from spring 2021.
It will provide facilities for up to 15 companies with 45 staff
In addition to laboratory, workshop and office space, meeting rooms and video-conferencing facilities. Tenants will be able to gain access to NIAB’s high performance computing capability, specialist laboratory facilities and both indoor and outdoor growing spaces.
Unique access to facilities and expertise
The unique offering of state-of-the-art technical facilities and links to NIAB, the Cambridge technology cluster and the wider agricultural sector will be ideal for early stage companies to grow and flourish.
Dr Juno McKee, Director of NIAB Ventures, says: “NIAB will work with a network of commercial and academic partners to provide a complete ecosystem within which technology driven start-ups and spinouts can thrive.”
Simon Clarke MP Minister for Regional Growth and Local Government says, “Investing in innovative agritech projects is at the heart of this Government’s commitment to create new, green jobs and reach our target of Net-Zero by 2050. That is why we are investing £2.5 million from the Local Growth Fund in this exciting project to create space for start-ups and small businesses in Cambridgeshire to grow and innovate, creating new jobs for the region and supporting this world-leading centre for agritech.”
NIAB’s Director of Commercialisation Dr Michael Gifford explains that to date there have been gaps in support for start-ups including access to sector specific expertise, basic research facilities with laboratory space, field plots, and engineering workshops: “We are thinking about agritech in its widest sense and expect to have companies specialising in plant genetics, pest management, soil health, and AI to support sustainable farming decisions, farm robotics and much more.”
A Cambridge agritech incubator
A study carried out for NIAB by the University of Cambridge’s Judge Institute showed that agritech start-ups felt that they would benefit from sector specific technical expertise and advice – exactly the type of support to be provided with the Cambridge agritech incubator Barn4.
“In Barn4, NIAB will be able to provide an environment in which young companies can thrive in the agritech sector. It allows companies to access the region’s unrivalled technology sector whilst also being on the doorstep of some of the most fertile farmland and progressive farmers in the world,” finishes Dr Gifford.