Livestock Innovation Centre opens for business

The Centre of Innovation Excellence in Livestock (CIEL) has started work  – the second of the four Innovation Centres funded through the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS)‘ Agri-Tech Strategy to go live. It is based at the former Central Science Laboratory premises just outside York.


CIEL has £27.7 million in funds from BIS between now and 2019 to invest into building capital infrastructure in research institutions and farm networks. When investment from industry and research bodies is added, the Centre will have total funding of some £70m to run projects on behalf of industry over the next seven year period. The joint funding is intended to “build transformational capacity and capability for the UK”.

The Centre was officially handed over from BIS agency Innovate UK last week. It is being run by an interim board and management while a full time chief executive and independent board are recruited.

Interim board chairman Nick Major, who is corporate affairs director at ForFarmers, commented: “CIEL will be the global lead for livestock nutrition, health and genetics, linking transformational research for industry-led innovation with commercial farms on the ground, generating wealth and business competitiveness through the growth in profitability of the UK livestock sector.”

Geneticist Sam Hoste, who is interim chief operating officer, adds: “CIEL’s objective is to increase the economic performance of UK farming and associated industries by £12 for each £1 spent on research. By bringing together the best research in areas such as breeding, animal health, biotechnology, feeding and genomics, the centre will create a state-of-the-art, one-stop-shop for the industry that we expect to increase productivity and drive innovation.”

The AHDB has co-ordinated CIELivestock as an industry-led project from its inception. Private sector company investors from the livestock and food industries include Agrisearch; BSAS and BSAS Industry Association; Cranswick Country Food; Devenish Nutrition; Dunbia; ForFarmers UK; veterinarian group Origin Group Holdco; RAFT Solutions and XLVets UK. Further support has been received from AB Agri; Alltech; Genus; The Cooperative Group; Tesco; Stonegate and Zoetis.

Academic partners include the universities of Edinburgh (The Roslin Institute); Leeds; Nottingham; Newcastle; Aberystwyth; Bristol; Queens (Belfast) and Harper Adams, alongside Rothamsted Research; the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute Northern Ireland (AFBI); Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC); Fera and the Duchy College.