Work begins on £62 million plant science hub at Invergowrie

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Work is now underway to build the International Barley Hub (IBH) and Advanced Plant Growth Centre (APGC) at the James Hutton Institute, supported by £62 million of funding from the UK and Scottish Governments.

The IBH – which has received £35m in support – seeks to secure the long-term future of the barley sector by helping develop new varieties and growing systems that can cope with future climate change, plus new uses for the crop.

The remaining £27m will support the development of the APGC, which aims to revolutionise crop production systems to produce food locally, 365 days a year, with less environmental impact.

Such systems include the likes of indoor vertical farms which can be completely independent of the weather, availability of agricultural land and use LED lights to enable full environmental control.

The two projects are hoped to be completed by early 2024 and aim to create over 470 jobs in the Tayside region and a further 2200 jobs across the wider Scottish and UK economy.

The multi-million-pound developments comprise of state-of-the-art science, farm and field facilities, and a new access road. They are being delivered by Oberlanders and Wellwood Leslie Architects and construction business McLaughlin and Harvey via SCAPE Scotland Construction.

To mark the commencement of the works formally, a breaking-ground ceremony was held at the JHI campus in Invergowrie, led by both Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Islands, Mairi Gougeon MSP, and Under Secretary of State for Scotland, Iain Stewart MP.

I am delighted to be helping to mark this important first step towards realising our £17 million investment in new facilities at the James Hutton Institute through the Tay Cities Region Deal.

Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Islands, Mairi Gougeon MSP

The Tay Cities Region Deal is a £700 million, 10-year regional investment partnership between governments and public and private organisations across Angus, Dundee, northeast Fife and Perth and Kinross.

Ms Gougeon continued: "The Institute has ambitious plans for the future, combining its world leading research with a real commitment to inclusive growth and sustainable food production for the future. We are committed to supporting research and innovation in agriculture to help keep Scotland at the forefront globally of action on food security through projects like the International Barley Hub.”

International Barley Hub

These exciting projects will place Scotland at the forefront of agricultural innovation, ensuring our food and drink production remains dynamic, sustainable and secure.

Under Secretary of State for Scotland, Iain Stewart MP

Mr Stewart added: “The UK Government is contributing £45 million to these projects through the Tay Cities Deal, which is bringing new jobs and investment to the region. We have committed more than £1.5 billion for regional deals across the whole of Scotland, helping communities to build back better from the pandemic.”

The IBH complements the existing spirit of collaboration in the barley supply chain and will provide the answers to our shared climate challenges through applied scientific excellence.

Chair of the IBH, Professor James Brosnan

This centre will allow us to develop and translate science that will lead to new productions systems like vertical farming, more accurately model climate change and its implications for plant and crop products such as food, pharma etc, and support food security through crop storage.

Director of the APGC, Professor Derek Stewart

It is expected that the APGC will support a rapidly expanding industry with 25% annual growth and an estimated worth of $12bn by 2026.