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UK's Norwich Research Park Opens Innovation Centre for Post-Incubation Startups

By Alex Philippidis

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The UK's Norwich Research Park has opened a £5 million ($7.9 million) facility designed to provide lab space for researchers whose startups have outgrown the campus' incubator, but still need proximity to NRP's workforce of nearly 3,000 scientists as they try to translate their discoveries into commercially viable technologies.

The new NRP Innovation Centre consists of more than 30 office and laboratory units constructed and fitted out within a refurbished 4,215 square-meter (43,000 square-foot), three-story building within the research park.

"Some tenants are expected to come from elsewhere on the Norwich Research Park, although not all by any means. Tenants are being sought amongst science, innovation, and technology organizations from around the world," Peter Treglown, a spokesman for the innovation center, told GenomeWeb Daily News.

The innovation center was funded by the UK government's bioscience funding arm and regional development agencies in Norwich. The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) contributed land and buildings for new facilities, along with £500,000. The East of England Development Agency chipped in £1.4 million, the Greater Norwich Development Partnership added £1 million, and the University of East Anglia will chip in £500,000.

The remainder comes from the partners that have collaborated to develop the research park. NRP has some 9,000 people working in more than 30 science and IT companies, as well as research institutes that include The Genome Analysis Centre (GAC), the Institute of Food Research (IFR), the John Innes Centre (JIC), and The Sainsbury Laboratory located at JIC.

GAC, IFR, and JIC are partners in the research park, as are UEA and The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. The trust runs hospitals that provide secondary and tertiary acute care for a territory or "catchment area" of up to 822,500 people.

NNUH is the innovation center's first tenant, having agreed to base its clinical microbiology team within the center's top floor of about 14,000 square feet. The space will house seven laboratories, 14 offices, walk-in freezers and cold stores.

The innovation center building was completed in the 1980s for use by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, and recently refurbished. It is managed by Colney Innovations Limited — jointly owned by IFR, JIC, UEA, and BBSRC — which will work to provide at the innovation center 'follow-on' space on commercial terms for science-related companies based at NRP, while also managing the existing Norwich Bio-Incubator, the research park said in the statement.

The Bio-incubator, owned by the John Innes Foundation, consists of 12 laboratories ranging in area from 550-1,000 square feet.

According to the innovation center's website, offices ranging from 168.9 square feet to 368.1 square feet net, and laboratories ranging from 202.3 square feet to 866.4 square feet net, are available for lease on the ground floor and middle or "first" floor.

"Tenants can, of course, take as many suites as they want," Treglown said. "The standard leases are for periods of three to five years. We would expect many businesses to have grown sufficiently after that period to consider larger premises elsewhere on the Norwich Research Park. Alternatively, leases can be extended for further periods."

The innovation center is "currently in advanced stages of negotiations with a number of further tenants," he added.

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