Geoffrey Davies OBE

Member Article

Marches LEP hands over £750,000 for precision project

A precision farming and engineering centre has received £750,000 from the Marches LEP, becoming the first project to benefit from an £8.1 million fund set up to create economic growth.

The National Centre for Precision Farming at Harper Adams University, near Newport, Shropshire, has been hailed by Prime Minister David Cameron as being ‘great for the UK’ and will create around 160 new jobs through graduates entering the engineering sector.

The £8.1 million Marches LEP Development Fund was set up last year to help boost projects by awarding loans to address immediate infrastructure and site constraints, helping to get stalled schemes back on track.

The funding has come from the Government’s Growing Places initiative, a pot of £570 million allocated to LEPs to unlock sites for development across the UK.

Chairman of the Marches Local Enterprise Partnership, Dr Geoffrey Davies OBE, said: “I’m delighted that the Harper Adams project has become the first to receive funding under our scheme. We want to support ready-to-go proposals which will create the conditions, and the infrastructure, most needed to boost economic growth and private sector jobs.

“The centre at Harper Adams will act as a catalyst for research and education, innovation and skills transference, within the related engineering fields.”

The LEP funding is being combined with a £1.5m contribution from the High Education Funding Council for England’s Catalyst Fund as well as funding from the University and two philanthropic donations to deliver the new engineering centre.

Prime Minister David Cameron, when he announced the HEFCEC funding last year, said: “It’s great for the UK that Harper Adams is establishing the National Centre for Precision Farming. This new higher education and research facility in Shropshire for engineering and farming students will lead to the creation of 160 jobs.”

Dr David Llewellyn, Vice-Chancellor of Harper Adams University, added: “We are very pleased that the Local Enterprise Partnership decided to support this innovative project.

“The National Centre for Precision Farming will play a critical role in developing new technologies for farming practice, and will bring together expertise from the agricultural engineering industry, the farming sector and the wider academic community.

“Precision farming is being widely discussed in the farming sector right now, so it is good to know that, with the support of the LEP, we will be at the forefront of these new developments, whilst contributing to local economic development.”

The next round of applications for the Marches LEP Development Fund will be announced in the next few weeks.

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Marches Local Enterprise Partnership .

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