SRUC has officially opened the UK’s largest facility dedicated to improving avian nutrition, health and welfare.

The £5.6 million Allermuir Avian Innovation and Skills Centre, near Edinburgh, has been co-funded by CIEL – the Centre for Innovation Excellence in Livestock – and has been designed as a venue for trialling innovative ideas under 'near-commercial' conditions, to help bridge the gap between research and poultry businesses.

CIEL invested £1.9 million in the new centre, with funding from Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency. SRUC invested £3.6 million with support from the Scottish Funding Council’s Financial Transactions Programme. The new site is near SRUC’s research facilities at Bush Estate and Easter Howgate, and adds to the Edinburgh and Lothian region’s reputation as a hotspot of collaborative animal research.

Once fully operational, the Allermuir Avian Innovation and Skills Centre will employ between 30 and 35 people and welcome at least four post-graduate students.

Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Lord Henley, conducted the official opening, and commented: “It’s great to see investment like this in new agri-tech facilities, which will help the sector to innovate and create the highly-skilled jobs of the future.

“Through our Agri-Tech Strategy and our modern Industrial Strategy, this government has invested more than £250 million to help transform food production in the UK for the better.”

SRUC principal and chief executive, Professor Wayne Powell, said: “The Allermuir Avian Innovation and Skills Centre will be of huge benefit to Scotland, the United Kingdom and globally. The people and facilities based here will help attract research investment from across the world.

“CIEL and Innovate UK are excellent partners in the project and I’d also like to thank the Scottish Funding Council for its support. A future with industry, researchers and governments working in closer collaboration is how we will meet the global challenges facing society. Partnerships like Allermuir Avian Innovation and Skills Centre is the model we need to take to support growth the economy.”

Scottish Funding Council chairman, Mike Cantlay, added: “The Centre is exactly the type of project we want to benefit from our Financial Transactions Programme. The facility will provide research and skills development for an important area of our economy and will contribute to Scotland’s reputation for world-leading research. I look forward to following its progress and to celebrating its successes in the future.”

Allermuir's first research projects will look at the impact of novel antimicrobials on performance and gut microbiome, and the role of amino acid nutrition on gut health.