MP hails the potential impact of new scientific partnership between Cambridge and Norwich

Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman. Photograph Simon Parker

Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman. Photograph Simon Parker - Credit: Archant

A historic new link between Norfolk and Cambridgeshire which will be launched today could be a catalyst for new ways of raising cash for infrastructure, an MP has said.

The new Norwich-Cambridge Agri-Tech Cluster will link the world-class research capabilities within the two cities with the land and food and farming sectors in the neighbouring rural areas.

But Mid-Norfolk MP George Freeman, who co-ordinated the development of the UK Agri-tech Strategy in his previous role as life science advisor, said the partnership could unlock other opportunities.

Mr Freeman said the single biggest obstacle to attracting investors was fast communications and a lack of effective global marketing.

“When we welcome international investors at Stansted or Norwich Airports, we need to be able to take them between the two cities on a fast modern train, not a two-carriage hourly rural service through dilapidated stations,” he said.

“One of the things I believe this partnership could do is help capitalise new models of investment and leadership around infrastructure. Why not, for instance, raise a Cambridge-Norwich infrastructure bond to finance the railway and attract international funding?”

He said that the reason the partnership around food and agriculture was being launched was because both Cambridge and Norwich were globally recognised as being world class.

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“But closer links between these two cities can also unlock opportunities in other areas such as healthcare, engineering and cleantech, where Norfolk is also world class,” he said. More details of the successful £3.2million Regional Growth Fund bid, which will help support small and medium businesses as well as provide investment to make prototypes and help turn ideas into reality, will be revealed today.

The event will highlight potential funding for businesses, including from the £3.2million Regional Growth Fund, the UK Agri-tech Strategy’s £160million investment, the £20million Agri-investment Fund being launched by the Adapt Group at UEA, and the EU Horizon 2020 programme.