National Potato Innovation Centre

We are seeking funding for the construction of a National Potato Innovation Centre at Invergowrie, which will allow us to establish a global-leading facility with greatly enhanced capacity to fast-track our critical research in support of this major staple food crop.

Conversations are ongoing with a variety of stakeholders and collaborators who may be able to assist with this funding while we develop and prioritise our plans in response to their feedback.

Food security is a global issue

Potato is a major crop in the UK and throughout Europe and is key in government strategies worldwide (including in China, India and Sub-Saharan Africa) to attain food security by ensuring a reliable and sustainable supply of healthy food.

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, worth about £30 million (approx. 4.2% market share).
  • We have a track record in delivering applied science for the agricultural industry.
  • We have many national and international partnerships.

The NPIC will work with the whole sector to deliver solutions to industry and will comprise a state-of-the art innovation centre that will work in partnership with all stakeholders; academia, industry and government. Based in Dundee, with national and international partners, NPIC will be part of a creative cluster where it will generate new findings, innovative products and highly skilled jobs in new industries.

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, including 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 know-how in advanced production and processing for early career researchers, through Fellowships and Studentships to train the next generation of specialists.
The third most important staple food
High in vitamins, minerals, protein and dietary fibre
Can be adapted to different agro- environments
Produces more food per hectare and per unit of water than grain crops
Ian Toth

Listen to Professor Ian Toth, Director of the NPIC, on the Hutton Highlights Podcast, from 9:50 >>

  • 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 (for example vaccines).
  • A focal point for potato research across the UK and globally and 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.
  • 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.