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Advanced Plant Growth Centre

Growth room (c) James Hutton Institute

Charged with meeting ever-growing demand, agriculture has had to diversify and adapt at an astonishing rate. To achieve this, research and innovation have to play a more significant role in supporting the world’s most important industry. Countries that are successful in translating science excellence through to industrial application will not only secure their food supply chains against the impact of climate change but also attract material inward investment opportunities.

A prime example of this research and innovation is the Advanced Plant Growth Centre (APGC) being developed at the James Hutton Institute in Invergowrie. APGC aims to deliver increased commercial, economic and environmental benefits to the agricultural, food and drink sectors in the UK and internationally, by innovative use of precision-controlled environmental technologies. With a return on investment of £11.70 for every £1 invested and £330 million in economic added value, it will bring significant economic impact and an estimated 800 full time equivalent jobs to the entire UK food and drink supply chain.

The investment required for the Centre equates to a £28 million ask and is currently under consideration as part of the Tay Cities Deal; a partnership between local, Scottish and UK governments and the private, academic and voluntary sectors which seeks to create a smarter, fairer and more prosperous Angus, Dundee and Perth & Kinross.

What are the aims of APGC?

  • Work with commercial partners to develop technology associated with vertical growth systems including plant/light interaction, sensor technology and the understanding of factors affecting taste and flavour
  • Develop plant varieties for vertical growth facilities including those suitable for automatic harvesting and bio-pharma use
  • Develop speed breeding to materially reduce the development time for new crops
  • Develop an innovative post harvest research facility to reduce losses during processing, transport and storage
  • Develop new crop varieties that can tolerate climate change and evolving pest and disease risks
  • Work with industry to develop support clusters to understand sector needs and drive knowledge exchange
  • Create a business support group to attract 'spin-in' organisations and support development of 'spin-out' opportunities
  • Economic benefit from a reduction in imported food products.

APGC in figures

  • £28m initial investment
  • 800 extra jobs created
  • £11.70 return for every £1 invested
  • £330m in economic value added to the food and drink industry
  • Financially sustainable by year 4

APGC research facilities

  • Controlled environment research facilities

    • Vertical growth facility
    • Growth rooms and chambers
    • Post-harvest facility
    • Advanced phenotyping facilities
  • Smart polytunnels
  • Glasshouses
  • Field trials

For more information on the project, please contact Philip Gane, Capital Projects Manager, or read the latest issue of our Project Update newsletter.


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The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.