On the day that our Prime Minister unveiled a new Industrial Strategy, I was at Norwich Research Park officially launching biotech spin out company, Leaf Systems with the Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation, Jo Johnson.
The new company, based on over 10 years of John Innes Centre research, uses a novel system to speedily and efficiently produce valuable proteins from plants for use in new diagnostics and vaccines. This new approach will enable a more rapid response to emerging pandemics.
The science behind Leaf Systems was developed, with BBSRC investment, at the John Innes Centre and its creators, Prof George Lomonossoff and Dr Frank Sainsbury, won the BBSRC Innovator of the Year award in 2012.
Leaf Systems is the result of long-term strategic investment in UK research and shows the strength of our bioscience community to not only produce ground breaking science but also to harness that knowledge to create new companies, products and services and foster economic growth.
During a wide-ranging informal discussion – involving the Minister, JIC’s Director Professor Dale Sanders and Professor George Lomonossoff, researcher and co-founder Leaf Systems® – I was once again struck by how critical a role that research and innovation plays in the UK’s economy. I was also reminded of the responsibility that BBSRC holds in ensuring that it helps create the right environment for UK bioscience research and innovation to continue to flourish.
Leaf Systems is its latest addition to the Norwich Research Park. From the Leaf Systems building I was able to point the minister to the cranes in the near distance which are building the Quadram Institute: this collaboration between UEA, the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital and BBSRC strategic investment will be a world-first interdisciplinary centre for food and health. And joins the Earlham Institute and John Innes Centre at the scientific core of the research park.
The full Industrial Strategy green paper will prove an interesting read for many across industry, research and academia. At the beginning of this blog I purposefully mentioned the full title of Jo Johnson – Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation – his remit and the fact that the role sits across both the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy and the Department for Education certainly signifies that research, education and business must all come into play in order to deliver benefits to the UK. As scientists we are incredibly well placed to work collaboratively, it’s part of our DNA so I am confident that we will continue to work across disciplines to ensure that UK bioscience remains world leading and the UK is the global partner of choice in research and innovation.