Latest OxLEP-backed Local Growth Fund project is completed and set to have major impact on agricultural and forestry sectors

The Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (OxLEP) has announced the completion of Oxford Centre for Plant Science Innovation, a Government-funded project, set to have a major impact on the agricultural and forestry sectors.

The Oxford Centre for Plant Science Innovation, led by our Department, is an interconnected centre for research and development, with the aim of addressing challenges in agriculture and forestry.

In addition to establishing a research centre in Oxford city centre, the Oxford Centre for Plant Science Innovation will create at least nine full-time jobs, three apprenticeships, nine studentships and at least two spin out companies.

As a county, Oxfordshire benefits from significant levels of farmland, with 74% of the county's land cover made-up of farmland, according to Wild Oxfordshire. 

OxLEP secured £2.1m of funding for the project via the government’s Local Growth Fund – the overall cost of the project being £4.7m.

OxLEP is one of 38 Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) in England playing a key role in driving forward economic growth and – by 2021 – it’s expected that central Government will have invested over £12bn into the UK economy via the Local Growth Fund.

The Local Growth Fund investment aims to allow LEPs to use their local knowledge to promote growth in their individual regions. Analysis has shown that for every £1 of Local Growth Fund invested, £4.81 in benefits could be generated.

Since its inception in 2011, OxLEP – with its partners – has secured over £660m-worth of government funding for Oxfordshire, which, in-turn, has seen more than 48,000 new jobs created in the county to-date. In total, OxLEP currently oversees a £2.2bn growth programme for the county.

Nigel Tipple – OxLEP Chief Executive – said: “The completion of such a significant project – that will have a positive impact on innovation in agricultural and forestry technologies in Oxfordshire – is excellent news. We were delighted to have secured such a major Local Growth Fund allocation for this project and we are sure it can be real asset to Oxfordshire, something which is vital as we begin the economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Professor Steven Kelly added: “The project has produced immediate impact on employment and training, and will have a long running legacy for innovation and spin-out company creation at the University of Oxford."

Professor John MacKay said: “This funding has been a key to new partnerships and training opportunities, creating a genomics platform for woodland development and forest conservation.”