World-leading research and technology will be brought together to improve agriculture at a new agri-tech hub after a £74m investment was announced.
The Easter Bush Agritech Hub will be supported by £27m from the UK Government, £1.3m from the Scottish Government, and £31.3m from the University of Edinburgh, as partners of the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal.
Researchers will apply the use of data to develop genetics and health innovations in the fields of agri-science and agri-business.
They said this would form part of finding solutions for global future food systems and the transformation of the agri-tech sector to a net-zero carbon future.
The hub will bring together researchers from the University of Edinburgh and other higher education institutions, along with commercial, public and third sector organisations.
Professor Bruce Whitelaw, interim director of the University of Edinburgh’s Roslin Institute, said: “This is a very exciting time for agri-science, with transformative technology and data sharing opening up new approaches for fair and inclusive growth.
“The City Region Deal will drive an innovation pipeline nucleated from Easter Bush here in Midlothian, with reach both across our country and internationally, all built around novel research fuelling a step change in upskilling, talent development and enterprise activities.”
The agri-tech hub, based at the university’s Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies’ Easter Bush campus near Roslin, Midlothian, is part of the City Region Deal’s investment into data-driven innovation.
It will engage with existing and emerging areas of innovation such as data-driven breeding and aquaculture to encourage and analyse data that will improve the agriculture industry worldwide.
The hub will build collaborative partnerships with industry, supporting new initiatives and novel systems of production such as robotics.
The rest of the investment will come from Midlothian Council, another of the City Deal partners, for a road to help manage traffic flows around the campus area, and from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.
Iain Stewart, UK Government minister for Scotland, said: “The Easter Bush Agritech Hub will be a great boost to Scotland’s world-leading agri-food and drink industries, promoting cutting-edge innovation and sustainability.
“The UK Government is investing £27m to support this new facility, which will attract new businesses and jobs and help us to build back better for Midlothian communities.
“We have now committed more than £1.5bn to City Region and Growth Deal projects across Scotland.”
Scotland’s transport, infrastructure and connectivity secretary Michael Matheson MSP said: “Across Scotland we have so far committed more than £1.9bn over the next ten to 20 years to City Region and Growth Deals and additional investments.”
He added: “Acting as a hub for data driven innovation, Easter Bush will ensure that we are well-equipped for a future in which digital skills can help make Scotland a world-leading entrepreneurial and innovative nation.”