Where does your coffee come from? Brazil? Kenya? Columbia? In the future, the answer might be rather closer to home… New strains of coffee plant that will help sustain the industry worldwide are to be developed in Norfolk.
Norfolk-based Tropic Biosciences are bringing together some of the world’s leading experts in plant genome technology for a project to develop new varieties of coffee plant, ready to be made available under licence to growers worldwide.
The £133,000 project has been made possible with a £60,000 grant from the Eastern Agri-Tech Growth Initiative, and will create jobs for a full-time researcher and part-time technician, to be recruited locally. The work will be carried out at Tropic Biosciences’ base on Norwich Research Park, part of New Anglia LEP’s Space to Innovate Enterprise Zone and a world-renowned cluster for research and development in food science.
Tropic’s team of scientists will use advanced genome editing techniques to develop commercially beneficial traits in existing coffee varieties, the first young plants to bear the new traits likely to be produced within 18 months.
Dr. Eyal Maori and Gilad Gershon, founders of Tropic Biosciences, said: “As with any global market, the coffee industry constantly faces new challenges, with growers
seeking new varieties of plants that offer stronger resistance to disease, higher yield and better quality. It’s our aim to use our expertise in genome technology to answer some of the challenges faced by growers.
“We made a specific decision to base ourselves at Norwich Research Park because of the phenomenal, world class talent and expertise already working here at institutions like the world renowned John Innes Centre and the Sainsbury Laboratory, and for the equally impressive research and laboratory facilities such a site brings.”
Mark Reeve, Chairman of the Eastern Agri-Tech Growth Initiative Board and Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough Enterprise Partnership, said: “The East of England is leading the way in research and development within the food and drink sector. By supporting the development of new varieties of coffee beans by Tropic Biosciences, we are enabling the growth of this sector and the creation of new jobs.”
Chris Starkie, Managing Director of New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “This project is yet more evidence that world-class research with global significance for future food production is taking place right here in the East, thanks to the pulling power of our agri-tech and food cluster at Norwich Research Park. Tropic Biosciences are the latest business to add high value jobs to our economy and we wish them every success.”
The Eastern Agri-Tech Growth Initiative is run by the Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough Enterprise Partnership (LEP) with support from New Anglia LEP, Norfolk County Council, Cambridgeshire County Council, and the local authorities covering this area.
Grants are available to organisations looking to improve productivity and efficiency through investment in specialist equipment, new market and supply chain development and the application of Research and Development.