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Surrey secures funding for Digital Innovation Centre for Animal Health

The University of Surrey and The Pirbright Institute have been awarded £1.2 million funding for a new project which will enable scientific researchers and businesses to work together and help establish the area as internationally-recognised for animal health.

The School of Veterinary Medicine

The Enterprise M3 Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) award will fund a unique partnership combining animal health, digital innovation and business collaboration, and will initially comprise two elements.

The first is a new centre at The Pirbright Institute which will provide a facility enabling researchers, visiting scientists, academics and commercial partners to work together to develop projects and secure collaborations, support and funding. 

The second element will be a Digital Innovation Centre for Animal Health, hosted by the University of Surrey’s School of Veterinary Medicine. The Centre will collaborate with the University’s 5G Innovation Centre and the Surrey Centre for the Digital Economy (CoDE) at the Surrey Business School to promote new approaches to collection and use of data, and will facilitate access to data generated by research for commercial organisations, partners and researchers.

The projects are expected to generate significant inward investment from national and international companies and create new jobs. Further jobs will be generated through future commercial partnerships.

Professor Lisa Roberts, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, said: “The University is delighted with this award, which will enable us to create a centre to promote digital innovation in animal health. 

“It recognises our strong collaborative work between the University’s 5G Innovation Centre, CoDE at the Surrey Business School and our new School of Veterinary Medicine.

“The centre will reinforce our existing links with The Pirbright Institute and APHA and will also be of significant interest to the commercial sector. It is a further step to realise our ambition to create a true centre of excellence in Surrey for veterinary research.” 

A cluster of excellence in animal health 

This investment is a significant step towards an internationally-recognised cluster of excellence in animal health in Surrey. 

The Enterprise M3 area is already a focal point in the UK for world-class animal health research excellence. These newly-funded projects will enhance the UK’s position as a leader in animal health and put Britain on the map as the place to invest in animal health, drug discovery and innovation in this field. 

It is envisaged that the funding will enable local growth through new interactions between partners, industry leaders and small and medium-sized enterprises. 

By linking small enterprises with large companies, economy of scale benefits could enable new ideas getting to market and getting there more quickly. 

Geoff French CBE, Chair of the Enterprise M3 Local Enterprise Board, said: “This is an exciting, collaborative project which will help researchers to work more effectively with businesses. 

“The projects will help secure funding from the public and private sector – as well as creating jobs, encouraging innovation in the animal health field and driving economic growth in the area. 

“We have fantastic research taking place and these projects we’ve funded will help establish the area as an internationally-recognised leader in this field.” 

Professor John Fazakerley, Director of The Pirbright Institute, said: “The Institute is a world-leading centre of excellence in research into viruses that affect farm animals and viruses that spread from livestock to people. This funding will enable us to host experts from around the world and instigate opportunities for collaboration that will enhance Surrey’s already strong position as a ‘go-to’ destination for animal science.”

Dr Andrew Soldan, Commercial Director at the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA), added: “This is an exciting opportunity to establish mutually beneficial partnerships aimed at exploiting the extensive, unique datasets generated by APHA’s research and build on our international reputation in animal health research.

“This initiative highlights our regional strength in animal and public health research and brings together the shared ambitions, skills and expertise of the APHA, The Pirbright Institute and the University of Surrey, driving opportunities for more innovation and growth.” 

Learn more about the School of Veterinary Medicine.

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