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National Potato Innovation Centre (NPIC)

Food security is a global issue:

Potato is key in the government strategies to attain food security in China, India and countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, to ensure a reliable and sustainable supply of healthy food. The climate and biodiversity crises require rapid development of crop cultivars adapted to warmer environments to be grown in low input sustainable systems.

The James Hutton Institute in partnership will use science to future-proof the UK potato industry

We are proposing to establish and manage a National Potato Innovation Centre (NPIC) because:

  • We are internationally renowned for potato science, and the UK’s biggest R&D centre for potatoes
  • We are custodians of the Commonwealth Potato Collection (CPC), a unique source of potato germplasm from wild relatives and land races
  • We have extensive expertise in delivering commercially successful varieties for major breeding companies, producing potato varieties worth c£30m (c. 4.2% market share)
  • We have a track record in delivering applied science for the agricultural industry
  • We have many international and national partnerships

How the NPIC will work

The NPIC will employ a whole sector approach to co-construct and deliver solutions to industry. The NPIC will comprise a state-of-the art-innovation centre that will work in partnership with all stakeholders. Based in Dundee with national and international partners, NPIC will generate a creative cluster to create new findings, innovative products and high skilled jobs in new industries. 

There are three main pillars:

Investment for the NPIC is needed in the form of...

Capital funding:

  • A new glasshouse complex with controlled environment facilities to grow out accessions from our Commonwealth Potato Collection, carry out cross and ‘speed breeding’, mine key traits including drought tolerance, pest and disease resistance and identify new genes and compounds, and conduct disease testing and trial processing experiments (new products)
  • Facilities to investigate novel compounds; below ground phenotyping systems to assess tuber and root features and pilot plant to assess processing characteristics
  • Open campus space comprising demonstration, engagement and meeting spaces for stakeholders to access for mono-, bi-, or multilateral projects. 

Training and apprenticeships:

  • A need to invest in technical skills and knowhow in advanced production and processing for early career researchers, through Fellowships and Studentships to train the next generation of specialists.

Outcomes and impact of NPIC

World class research in potato science supporting innovation in the potato supply and value chains will lead to:

  • New businesses and start-ups
  • Training and skills development
  • New breeding pipelines for rapid development and deployment of new varieties for sustainable systems
  • New technologies for efficient, net zero production with less waste
  • High value functional foods and novel natural products including, non-animal based  proteins, potato-based plastics and biomolecules (e.g. vaccines)
  • An aligned and informed stakeholder community
  • New international collaborations and underpinning global food security and nutrition with global economic benefits
  • Reputation as a key player in food security in the UK and globally.

Economic benefits in the form of:

  • New facilities and expertise brought to Tayside
  • Complementary facilities and critical mass in food and drink available to all sectors of the industry
  • A strong creative cluster for food and drink innovation in the UK attracting inward investment for jobs and new businesses. A strategic outline case and high-level economic analysis demonstrate a clear need for the project, and a strong economic case with potential benefit cost ratio (BCR) of over 2.0.

Cost: It is estimated that the cost of building and equipping NPIC will be between £62.1 to £77.0m.

NPIC pledge tree

The James Hutton Institute is proposing to establish a National Potato Innovation Centre at its campusin Invergowrie, where its extensive experience in potato breeding will be used to rapidly develop seed potatoes adapted to the global change in climate and which require less input and are thus more sustainable longer term.

This pledge tree is a growing collection of signatures of support that we have gathered to show the understanding and acknowledgement that exists for such a centre and the importance that the potato has for our economy and livelihoods.

Some of the signatures we have gathered so far:

  • Graeme Beale, Scottish Government
  • Claire McLaren, Perth and Kinross Council
  • Lorna Slater, Scottish Government 
  • Gerry Saddler, Scottish Government
  • Susan Davies, James Hutton Institute Board 
  • Douglas Ross, Scottish Government
  • Finlay Carson, Scottish Government
  • Alister Jack, MP
  • Ariane Burgess, Scottish Government 
  • Pete Wishart, MP
  • David Duguid, MP
  • Matt Williams, Scottish Government 

You can view the current pledge tree and contributors here.

Research

Areas of Interest


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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.