This is the first funding award to be made from HEFCE’s new Catalyst Fund (Note 1) which has been operational since 1 August 2012. The fund supports HEFCE's priority aims and objectives through investment in innovative and exceptional projects with universities and colleges. Funded projects will provide additional benefits and activities for the higher education sector, students and wider society (Note 2).
The HEFCE Catalyst Fund contribution will be combined with funding from the Marches Local Enterprise Partnership, the university college and two philanthropic donations from the Douglas Bomford Trust and the Eric Lea Estate to deliver the new Harper Adams engineering centre.
Prime Minister David Cameron, said:
'It's great for the UK that Harper Adams is establishing the National Centre for Precision Farming. This new higher education and research facility in Shropshire for engineering and farming students will lead to the creation of 160 jobs.'
The Prime Minister was on a trade mission to Brazil with Harper Adams Vice-Principal Professor Peter Mills (Note 3).
Alan Langlands, HEFCE Chief Executive, said:
'We are delighted to make the first funding award from the new Catalyst Fund, and look forward to seeing the National Centre for Precision Farming take shape. The fund represents a tremendous opportunity for HEFCE, universities and colleges to support innovative and exciting projects and activities for the benefit of the sector, students and the country as a whole.'
Harper Adams Principal, Dr David Llewellyn, said:
'Harper Adams University College has unique expertise in agricultural engineering, including precision farming techniques, and is the only provider of undergraduate agricultural engineering programmes in the UK. The university college will therefore play a critical role in developing an advanced engineering response to address government policy priorities, help support this important STEM subject area (Note 3), and contribute to agricultural research and education via a cross-disciplinary and cross-institutional initiative.'