New £4.2 million centre revealed at RAU for business and agritech entrepreneurs

Growth Hub RAU interior
Growth Hub RAU

NFU President Minette Batters has opened the Royal Agricultural University’s (RAU) new home for regional business development and UK-wide agritech innovation, the Alliston Centre at Cirencester.

Named after the late Professor John Alliston, who was Emeritus Professor of Agriculture at the RAU, the centre will be a base for Gloucestershire businesses of all kinds and a headquarters for innovators working across the UK’s agriculture and land-based industries.

Located within the RAU’s campus in Cirencester, over half of the £4.2 million Alliston Centre will be used by Farm491, the University’s expanding agritech innovation and incubation hub. The rest will be home to the Cirencester Growth Hub – part of the Gloucestershire Growth Hub network – supporting local enterprises to achieve their potential, expand and create jobs.

The 15,000 sq ft building, in full operation from 31 July, will create a collaborative, entrepreneurial community where businesses can be born and developed.

Examples of innovators already working with Farm491 include Multibox, which aims to produce low-cost insects for fish and animal feed; Horse Logic, a consultancy optimizing equine performance, and welfare and Raw Energy, which develops renewable energy assets.

Minette Batters, NFU President, said: “It is so refreshing to be a part of and witness agritech innovation on this scale. 

“Seeing the diversity of entrepreneurs and innovators on show at this opening demonstrates how forward-thinking we already are when it comes to new technology.” 

HRH Prince Charles, who is President of the RAU, also recorded a video message to mark the occasion:

The Growth Hub, funded by GFirstLEP and the RAU, is managed by Yesim Nicholson and will help Gloucestershire businesses of all sizes to collaborate, network and exchange ideas. It aims to grow the county’s economy as a whole, by accelerating their development and will take particular advantage of the RAU’s existing areas of expertise.

Dr Diane Savory OBE, Chair GFirst LEP, said: “The original Growth Hub in Longlevens, Gloucester, in partnership with the University of Gloucestershire, opened its doors in October 2014 and has worked with over 2,000 businesses since then.

“To now see the first of these new Hubs open its doors, in a brand new building that has the wow factor both inside and out, makes me very proud.”

Professor Joanna Price, Vice-Chancellor of the Royal Agricultural University said: “Bringing together agritech innovators and regional businesses under one roof is such an exciting project, and one we couldn’t have achieved without our partnership with GFirst LEP and by working with the University of Gloucestershire, which has already developed a successful Growth Hub.”