Science Minister opens British Antarctic Survey innovation centre

Science Minister opens British Antarctic Survey innovation centre

21 July 2017

The new Aurora Innovation Centre that will support cross-discipline research to tackle environmental challenges and increase the real-world benefit of polar research was officially opened today by Universities & Science Minister Jo Johnson.

Science Minister Jo Johnson formally opens the Aurora Innovation Centre at the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) in Cambridge, alongside BAS Director Jane Francis and Natural Environmental Research Council (NERC) CEO Duncan Wingham.

Located at the British Antarctic Survey in Cambridge, the £4.3 million government investment aims to stimulate new ideas and innovative thinking that will lead to more scientific breakthroughs, new partnerships and economic potential that will benefit society. A key collaboration focus for Aurora is how polar expertise can be applied to other areas of policy, business, academia and the third sector.

As part of the Cambridge Innovation Cluster, Aurora benefits from a £300,000 contribution by Cambridge University for innovation projects.

Jo Johnson, minister for universities and science, said:

"With science at the heart of our Industrial Strategy and our investment of £4.7 billion to 2021, we are building on our reputation as a science and research powerhouse and ensuring the UK continues to punch above its weight in in global science.

This new innovation centre will bring together great minds from a variety of disciplines to lead the international effort to tackle environmental change and demonstrate the value of research and collaboration in solving some of the greatest challenges of our time."

During his visit the minister met research teams who are working on biotechnology, autonomous instruments, and earth observation. He was also shown Antarctic sea-lemons (potential sources of biopesticides), how satellites are utilised for navigation in polar seas and for tracking polar animals, as well as how space weather forecasting research is being used by the satellite and insurance industries.

Professor Duncan Wingham, NERC chief executive says:

"Our aim is to unlock the full potential of BAS polar expertise and assets, to deliver socio-economic benefit. The Aurora Innovation Centre will contribute to NERC's vision of enabling the UK to deliver innovation and growth with responsible environmental management, and capitalise on Cambridge as a global centre for innovation."

Dr Beatrix Schlarb-Ridley, director of innovation at British Antarctic Survey, says:

"I am so excited about all the innovation possibilities growing out of our work in the Polar Regions. The breadth is inspiring: From novel bioactives for biotechnology and agri-tech, over autonomous and remote sensing for challenging environments, to modelling for space weather forecasts and sea-level rise our expertise can add value to many different sectors of industry and society. We look forward to unlocking this potential through lively collaborations in the new Innovation Centre."

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