Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss has announced that Fera, the Food and Environment Research Agency, will now be run by a joint venture including Defra, Capita and Newcastle University, unlocking £14.5m of new investment.
Ms Truss said, “This is part of Defra’s ambitious science programme and recognition of the importance of cutting-edge research. The joint venture will expand the agency’s world-leading scientific capability and strengthen its role in food safety research. It will enable FERA to play an even greater role in helping to drive growth in our £100 billion agri-food industry.”
The new JV will officially commence on 1 April 2015. “Fera has a significant presence in the agri-food market where it is already recognised as an internationally respected scientific organisation,” added Ms Truss. “As the joint venture partner, Capita, will bring valuable commercial expertise and experience enabling Fera to maximise its capabilities. The venture also includes the creation of a joint academic institute with Newcastle University aimed at advancing the understanding and application of science to practical agri-food problems.”
Hilary Aldridge, Fera Chief Executive welcomed the initiative: “Today’s announcement is good news for Fera. We are a global leader in plant health, the agrifood supply chain and environmental sciences, and this enables us to grow from strength to strength. By bringing Capita’s wealth of commercial and Fera’s scientific experience, along with the £14.5m investment, we will safeguard the long term future of Fera and increase our ability to grow our business, both to the UK government and new commercial customers globally. This is an exciting time for our staff, customers and for Fera.”