Welsh Government
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Investment to sow seeds for the future

A £23.5m investment in world class research into some of the world’s major environmental challenges was announced yesterday by Education Minister Jane Hutt.

The funding from the Assembly Government will support a £55m project to create a Biosciences and Environment Alliance between Aberystwyth and Bangor Universities bringing together the newly formed Institute for Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences (IBERS) at Aberystwyth and the College of Natural Sciences at Bangor University.

The funding will provide new fit for purpose buildings and facilities for research and teaching at both Aberystwyth and Bangor and new scientific and management posts. The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council is investing £14m for capital developments at IBERS as well as ongoing research funding.

The creation of the Institute of Biological Environmental and Rural Sciences at Aberystwyth University from the merger with IGER created a major new research and teaching Institute. The further collaboration with Bangor University’s College of Natural Sciences will deliver the largest group of Biological, Environmental and Rural scientists in the UK and makes the Alliance a major global competitor.

Announcing the funding Jane Hutt said:

Living with climate change, renewable energy, global food security and plant and animal diseases are the grand challenges for the 21st century. They impact globally and locally on our health and well being. This investment by the Assembly Government and the Research Council will help us understand and tackle those grand challenges.

This development offers a major opportunity to Wales to create research excellence in areas of importance to Wales. It will help raise Wales’ reputation as a place where research of real excellence and relevance can happen and has a real and long term impact on science, society and the economy.

The merger of IGER into Aberystwyth University and the strategic collaboration with Bangor University provides a unique opportunity to create internationally competitive strategic research and development capacity in Wales. As we set out in One Wales, we are committed to develop and support proposals for joint working and inter-University agreements across Wales. This investment in a new national research centre is a further step in our delivery of One Wales.

Mr Steve Visscher, BBSRC Interim Chief Executive, said:

The elements that make up the new Alliance have individually strong track records in bioscience, environmental and land-based research. By combining these strengths the new grouping has the opportunity to build a centre of excellence that can make an impact not only in Wales and the rest of the UK but globally. This move will place environmental and land-based science in Wales on a sustainable footing for the future. The Alliance will also provide a focus to efforts to ensure that the world-class research at the respective institutions is translated into economic and social benefits.

Professor Philip Gummett, Chief Executive of the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW), said:

We are very pleased to be able to support this important development. We expect it will help deliver Aberystwyth and Bangor Universities to the front rank of research organisations globally in this crucial field.

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