Jane Hutt, Minister for Finance & Government Business
Further to my previous statements on 20 November and 5 December which announced the European Commission’s approval of the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and European Social Fund (ESF) Operational Programmes 2014–2020 for Wales, respectively, I am pleased to announce today another significant milestone – the first approval of EU funds in this new programming round for the Aberystwyth Innovation and Enterprise Campus.
The £35m Aberystwyth Innovation and Enterprise Campus (AIEC), led by Aberystwyth University, will receive £20 million of EU funds to build a new state-of-the-art facility that will attract private and competitive research funding so that companies and researchers can undertake collaborative research and innovation projects to boost the bio-economy.
The research is expected to generate innovative new products, services and spin-out companies in sustainable food, health, biotechnology and renewable energy. Initiatives planned for the AIEC, which will be based at the Gogerddan Campus, include:
- Centre for Food, Nutrition and Energy Security
- Future Food Centre
- Bio-refining Centre
- Seed Biobank and Processing Facility
- Interdisciplinary Centre for the Bioeconomy
The AIEC will work closely with the University’s Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Science (IBERS) which is already driving research in the areas of food security, bioenergy and sustainability, and climate change. IBERS also leads the ground-breaking EU-backed BEACON Centre of Excellence for Biorefining, whose achievements were recognised by the European Commission this year through the prestigious RegioStars award.
We are the first nation in the UK and among the front runners in Europe to have our programmes approved, and the AIEC project approval today is testament to the preparatory work which has been underway between the Welsh European Funding Office and stakeholders to help ensure that vital EU investments continue to flow into the Welsh economy.
With more project proposals at an advanced stage of development, further project approvals will be announced next year.
This statement is being issued during recess in order to keep members informed. Should members wish me to make a further statement or to answer questions on this when the Assembly returns I would be happy to do so.