Innovation coming home to roost in Midlothian centre

Ceil Lyndsay,Mike castlay,Tim Benett,Lord Hesley,Wayne Powell and Jos Hondijk at the �5.6 million Allermuir Avian Innovation and Skills Centre near Edinburgh, which is the largest capacity research facility of its kind in the UK. Photograph David Cheskin
Ceil Lyndsay,Mike castlay,Tim Benett,Lord Hesley,Wayne Powell and Jos Hondijk at the �5.6 million Allermuir Avian Innovation and Skills Centre near Edinburgh, which is the largest capacity research facility of its kind in the UK. Photograph David Cheskin

The UK’s largest facility to improve avian health and welfare was opened last week near Penicuik.

Scotland’s Rural College’s (SRUC) £5.6 million Allermuir Avian Innovation and Skills Centre has been co-funded by the Centre for Innovation Excellence in Livestock(CIEL).

Lord Henley, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, opened the centre.

He said: “It’s great to see investment like this in new agri-tech facilities, which will help the sector to innovate and create the highly-skilled jobs of the future.

“Through our Agri-Tech Strategy and our modern Industrial Strategy, this government has invested more than £250 million to help transform food production in the UK for the better.”

By trialling innovative ideas under near-commercial conditions, the Allermuir Avian Innovation and Skills Centre is helping to bridge the gap between research and poultry businesses. The first research projects will look at novel antimicrobials impacts on performance and gut microbiome, and the role of amino acid nutrition on gut health.

CIEL invested £1.9m in the new centre, with funding from Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency. SRUC invested £3.6m with support from the Scottish Funding Council’s Financial Transactions Programme.

The Allermuir Avian Innovation and Skills Centre significantly broadens the poultry research capability available through CIEL’s nationwide network of university partners. This network enables businesses across the supply chain to work directly with world-leading researchers to develop new agri-tech solutions to benefit the UK agrifood sector.

The new site is near SRUC’s research facilities at Bush Estate and Easter Howgate and enhances the Edinburgh and Lothian region’s reputation as a centre for innovative collaborative animal research.

Once fully operational, the centre will employ between 30 and 35 people and welcome at least four post-graduate students.

Professor Wayne Powell, Principal and Chief Executive of SRUC, said: “The Allermuir Avian Innovation and Skills Centre will be of huge benefit to Scotland, the United Kingdom and globally. The people and facilities based here will help attract research investment from across the world.

“CIEL and Innovate UK are excellent partners in the project and I’d also like to thank the Scottish Funding Council for its support. A future with industry, researchers and governments working in closer collaboration is how we will meet the global challenges facing society. Partnerships like Allermuir Avian Innovation and Skills Centre is the model we need to take to support growth the economy.”

Mike Cantlay, Chairman of the Scottish Funding Council, said: “The Centre is exactly the type of project we want to benefit from our Financial Transactions Programme. The facility will provide research and skills development for an important area of our economy and will contribute to Scotland’s reputation for world-leading research. I look forward to following its progress and to celebrating its successes in the future.”