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First Minister of Wales Officially Opens AberInnovation

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AberInnovation celebrated its official opening last week in a ceremony presided over by the Right Honourable Mark Drakeford MS, First Minister of Wales.

Based on Aberystwyth University’s Gogerddan Campus, AberInnovation provides world-leading facilities and expertise for the biotechnology, agri-tech, and food and drink sectors.

The event marked the official opening of the state-of-the-art facilities at the £43.5m development which is funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government, the BBSRC – part of UK Research and Innovation – and Aberystwyth University.

Mark Drakeford MS, First Minister of Wales, said:

“It was a pleasure to help celebrate the opening of the new Aberystwyth Innovation and Enterprise Campus. I’m delighted that the Welsh Government has been able to support this venture with over £23m through the ERDF programme. AberInnovation is now perfectly placed to develop collaborative research and development projects.”

AberInnovation is a 3,500m2 development built to BREEAM Excellent standards comprising of four custom-designed zones for agri-food and circular economy research and development: its Biorefining Centre, Future Food Centre, Advanced Analysis Centre and the Aberystwyth University Seed Biobank.

Co-located on the site is the AberInnovation Incubator, office accommodation for start-ups and SMEs seeking to collaborate with Aberystwyth University academics using the Campus’s facilities.

Professor Elizabeth Treasure, Vice-Chancellor at Aberystwyth University, said:

“Today marks a hugely significant milestone for AberInnovation and for the University’s Gogerddan campus. These new cutting-edge facilities for collaborative research and development projects within the biotechnology, agri-tech, and food and drink sectors allow industry and academia to work together to address some of our most pressing challenges, such as climate change mitigation and transitioning to a low-carbon economy.”

Campus construction was completed in August 2020 by Willmott Dixon and following a period of equipment procurement and commissioning, a limited number of attendees were able to attend in person to celebrate the official opening. A wider group of stakeholders were invited to join virtually.

While mobilising the new research and development facilities, the AberInnovation team have succeeded in attracting businesses to become tenants of the new AberInnovation Incubator and this is currently at 100% occupancy with 14 innovation-led companies on site.

Dr Rhian Hayward MBE, Chief Executive Officer of AberInnovation said:

“We have reached an important milestone. I am very proud of the AberInnovation Team, who have worked tirelessly to deliver these unique facilities. Our tenants on site, the local business community and our growing network of global companies, can now use the new capabilities to develop their products and services.

Our team are ready to support their engagement with university experts, funders and professional service providers and I am confident that AberInnovation will contribute significantly to economic growth here in mid Wales”.

Professor Melanie Welham, Executive Chair of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) said:

“As one of AberInnovation’s funding partners we are helping to bring researchers, innovators and businesses together to stretch boundaries and create new industries. The future of innovation in the region is well served by AberInnovation and I look forward to witnessing the exciting work coming out the centre.”

As part of the event, the First Minister and Professor Melanie Welham also took part in a question and answer session looking ahead to COP26 as part of Aberystwyth University’s Festival of Research.  The session was chaired by broadcaster and Aberystwyth alumna Betsan Powys, who asked questions submitted by staff and students.