Board chair sees how our cash is helping to create green enterprises
- Credit: CAPCA
A £1.25m investment in an East Cambridgeshire innovation hub is helping to develop a rich variety of businesses linking science and agriculture.
There, is for example, Agrihub that uses waste fruit and vegetables that would end up in landfill as feed for black solider fly larvae.
These larvae are used in pet and livestock feed and their waste products may have a role in crop nutrition and protection.
Another, Cambond, is developing a carbon neutral bio-resin adhesive from waste from the brewing industry.
Both are part of the Eastern AgriTech Innovation Hub in Hasse Road, Soham and run by NIAB, one of Britain’s oldest agricultural science research centres.
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It was founded, as the National Institute of Agricultural Botany, in 1919, as a charitable trust, to promote the improvement of British crops.
The Soham hub received £625,00 towards their investment from the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority Business Board.
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And board chairman Austen Adams has been on a fact-finding visit.
The hub is a base for small and medium sized enterprises and start-ups involved in both waste reduction and improving the value of waste products in the food and crop supply chain.
Mr Adams said: “Some of the environmental benefits that can flow from work being done here in waste reduction is really quite breath-taking.”
“I applaud NIAB for all they are doing to support this flourishing sector.”
He said: “The obvious observation from the visit was not just the jobs that have been created on the site but the potential for the technologies which are being developed to evolve and scale up.
Dr Lydia Smith, who manages the hub said: “These emerging companies need a sustainable infrastructure to grow and create their products.
“We’re confident the improvements in the hub will allow small allow SMEs to grow and prosper in the waste valorisation sector.”
The upgraded facilities include new polytunnels, a glasshouse, heat pump, sustainable water-use facilities and a 33KW solar farm installed on the site.
The facility offers new start-ups not just lab and office space, but also access to fields and farm machinery to allow pilot testing and the better commercialisation of ideas.
Included at the hub are:
A 33KW solar farm feeding back into the facility and back to the grid when overcapacity (new)
A 10-kw ground source heat pump working with solar thermal panels (new)
An aerobic PRM bio digester (this breaks down organic material into a highly efficient fertiliser or fuel for a bio boiler) and produces moist heat during processing (new)
A bio disc; a small-scale sewage treatment plant (with anticipated up to 25 persons per day) (new)
Air source heat pumps to heat and cool a large polytunnel (new)
Two rainwater harvesting systems (new)
All of this can be monitored from the screen in main reception and the energy hub
Small glasshouse with benching and frost free heating (new)
Two polytunnels with hydroponic growing systems; deep water and ebb & flow (new) Outside growing areas and parking space for at least 25 vehicles
Web enabled camera security system