Capita and Newcastle University have been chosen to create a joint venture with Defra to help run Fera, the Food and Environment Research Agency as part of Defra’s ambitious science programme. The joint venture will unlock £14.5m of new investment.
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 venture 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.
Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss said:
“This exciting investment allows Fera to grow its science capability, ensuring the security and quality of our food supply chain and keeping our plants and environment healthy.
“Fera’s continued ability to deliver cutting edge science will enhance its reputation and viability as an international centre of excellence that can compete abroad and attract further investment.”
Defra will maintain a strategic share of 25% in Fera, allowing it to continue to benefit from the agency’s scientific excellence, which plays a vital role in ensuring national plant health.
Fera Chief Executive Hilary Aldridge said:
“I look forward to working with Capita and Newcastle University which will strengthen Fera’s existing scientific quality and international reputation. Capita brings a wealth of commercial experience, along with the investment needed to safeguard the long term future of Fera and the ability to grow our business, both to government and new commercial customers.”
Defra Chief Scientific Adviser Ian Boyd said:
“Strong science is vital to the work that Defra carries out, ensuring that our food sector is world-leading, and protecting our country from animal and plant diseases.
“This decision will ensure that Fera remains a modern and innovative centre of scientific excellence.”
The partnership with Newcastle University will further enhance Fera’s leading edge science. Fera will benefit from access to the University’s experimental farms for agriculture, horticulture and crop protection, as well as their research expertise in food quality, agri-tech and food safety.
A strong link between Fera and academia will see cutting-edge scientific research turned into practical commercial solutions, and will support the creation of a centre of excellence for UK agri-food research.
It is intended that Capita will take over the operation of Fera from 1st April.