Rothamsted’s iconic Russell Building opens for business

  • Refurbishment work has been completed on the Russell Building on the Rothamsted campus in Harpenden, Hertfordshire
  • The work was jointly funded by Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and Hertfordshire Innovation Quarter (Herts IQ) – providing a total of £1.7m Local Growth Fund investment
  • The beautiful red-brick Russell Building, steeped in history, has excellent transport links and will house 22 offices and up to 118 people
  • New tenant companies are already ready to join the thriving ecosystem of agri-tech, agri-food, food-tech and innovation businesses

The Russell Building at Rothamsted, Harpenden, has been newly refurbished to provide much-needed business space for high-growth agri-tech SMEs.

The historic red-brick building, which had lain empty since 2014, has been transformed with the help of a £1.7m Local Growth Fund investment from Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and Herts Innovation Quarter (Herts IQ), which is boosting agri-tech growth in the county.

The investment has breathed new life into the building, bringing forward modern, multi-use spaces, including 22 offices of various sizes, from 200ft2 to over 1,200ft2, a hot-desk hub for flexible working, and an open plan innovation space where entrepreneurs can collaborate before prototyping their ideas and testing on-site.

This increase in capacity will enable a greater number of companies to take advantage of the tax breaks, free business support and collaboration opportunities offered by Herts IQ on site at Rothamsted Research.

Rothamsted Research is the world’s longest running agricultural research station, delivering cutting-edge science and innovation for 170 years, with strong links to research institutes in Oxford, Cambridge and London.

Reflecting its proud history as the original birthplace of agricultural science in the UK, the Russell Building will once again provide a home for high-tech businesses specialising in agri-tech, food-tech and innovation. The building is ideally situated on Rothamsted’s thriving business campus, enabling tenants to tap into a rich ecosystem of agri-science expertise and benefit from opportunities to work with some of the world’s leading scientists.

Peter Oxley, CEO at the Lawes Agricultural Trust (the landowners of the Rothamsted estate) said: “We are thrilled to see the Russell Building brought back to life. Our other tenant spaces are full, so this will allow us to attract more new businesses to the Rothamsted estate. Not only is this hugely positive for the campus, but also for agri-tech entrepreneurs, for Harpenden, and for the county, as we bring more jobs and businesses to Hertfordshire.”

“We’re delighted that this iconic building is now back in use as a hub for agri-tech businesses,” said Nicole Sadd, CEO, Rothamsted Enterprises. “We very much look forward to welcoming lots of innovative businesses to the Rothamsted ecosystem.”

Prof. Angela Karp, Director and CEO, Rothamsted Research, commented: “What makes the Rothamsted campus unique is the opportunity that our world-leading scientists have to interact with the growing number of agri-tech businesses on site. The refurbished Russell Building will not only boost the potential for this creative collaboration, but also bring back to life a central part of our heritage.”

Minister for Regional Growth and Local Government, Luke Hall MP said: “It is excellent news that a £1.7 million Local Growth Fund investment has helped to bring a new lease of life to Harpenden’s iconic Russell Building.

“The completed renovations will attract more businesses and investment to the Rothamsted campus, helping to build a thriving, entrepreneurial community. This project has preserved the Russell Building’s rich heritage while marking the start of a new chapter in its history.”

Cherie Norris, Herts IQ Enterprise Zone Manager at Hertfordshire LEP said: “We’re delighted that our investment is enabling greater numbers of agri-tech and food tech innovators to take advantage of the world class expertise available at Rothamsted Research. As the newly refurbished Russell Building welcomes more agri-tech businesses to join Herts IQ, we’re pleased to be supporting their future success in Hertfordshire.”

The pretty village of Harpenden offers excellent shopping, dining and recreational amenities in a spectacular rural setting, whilst being well connected to the M1, A1M and M25, and just 10 minutes from London Luton Airport and 25 minutes by train to London St Pancras International.

Businesses in agri-tech, agri-food, agricultural science and research looking for new office premises in Hertfordshire should contact Claire Wolstencroft on 01582 938500 or email info@rothamstedenterprises.com.


Notes to editors:

Established in April 2015, Rothamsted Enterprises is a collaboration between Rothamsted Research (RRES), the Lawes Agricultural Trust (LAT) and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)[1] . It is based on the historic, world-renowned Rothamsted Research campus in Harpenden, Hertfordshire and is the first stage in the development of a larger campus on the site in Harpenden.

Set up in 2015 as the commercial arm of Rothamsted Research, Rothamsted Enterprises is a unique hub focused on promoting collaboration and innovation by partnering with commercial agricultural technology businesses and opening up the research process. Rothamsted Enterprises encompasses Rothamsted Agri-Tech Business Centre, Rothamsted Conference Centre, Rothamsted Manor and Rothamsted Restaurant. It exists to enable and facilitate innovation and collaboration in Agri-Tech, through office and lab space rental, as well as through conferencing and events. www.rothamstedenterprises.com

About the Russell Building

The beautiful red-brick Russell Building was constructed between 1914 and 1918 on the site of the testimonial laboratory and was officially opened in 1919. The building was named after Sir Edward John Russell OBE FRS, a British soil chemist, agriculture scientist, and director of Rothamsted Experimental Station from 1912 to 1943.

The Russell Building refurbishment project builds on the success of the Daniel Hall Building (86 employees created to date, 12 new start-up businesses on site as well as tenants securing £1m financial investment in Q1 2019). The building is now at full capacity with businesses seeking grow-on space, which this project will provide, enabling further growth and freeing up incubation space in the Daniel Hall for new start-ups.

Businesses with a presence at Rothamsted range from start-ups and SMEs right through to established international agribusiness. Tenants include Gowan Crop Protection, Femtogenix and Timac Agro. The Harpenden Campus is served by excellent transport links, close to the M1, A1M and M25, is 10 minutes from London Luton Airport, and just 25 minutes from London St Pancras International.

About the Lawes Agricultural Trust

The Lawes Agricultural Trust is an incorporated charity and company limited by guarantee which traces its origin to a Trust which was established in 1889 by a Declaration of Trust of Sir John Bennett Lawes FRS, who founded Rothamsted Experimental Station in 1843.

The Trust’s Object is “to advance the science of agriculture for the public benefit through original investigation and research, which may embrace all or any subject(s) connected to or bearing upon agriculture, including animal or vegetable physiology, meteorology, botany and chemistry”.

The Trust’s main assets are the land and buildings at Rothamsted, Harpenden, and at Brooms Barn, Suffolk. As such, the Trust utilises its assets to pursue its Object as follows:

  • Provision of land and buildings suitable for agricultural and related sciences conducted by Rothamsted Research;
  • Provision of accommodation to key workers, students and staff – enabling them to move into Harpenden on modest scientific salaries;
  • Granting financial support for scientific costs to Rothamsted Research, mainly through a “Director’s Vote” fixed annually by the Trustees;
  • Playing an active role in taking forward the Rothamsted campus to enable interaction with small companies, actively enhancing the uptake of agricultural and environmental research across different communities, in conjunction with Rothamsted Enterprises Limited.

About Rothamsted Research

Rothamsted Research is the oldest agricultural research institute in the world. We work from gene to field with a proud history of ground-breaking discoveries. Our founders, in 1843, were the pioneers of modern agriculture, and we are known for our imaginative science and our collaborative influence on fresh thinking and farming practices. Through independent science and innovation, we make significant contributions to improving agri-food systems in the UK and internationally. In terms of its economic contribution, the cumulative impact of our work in the UK exceeds £3,000 million a year (Rothamsted Research and the Value of Excellence, by Séan Rickard, 2015). Our strength lies in our systems approach, which combines science and strategic research, supported by unique capabilities and interdisciplinary teams, and strengthened by partnerships. Rothamsted is home to three unique resources. These National Capabilities are open to researchers from all over the world: The Long-Term Experiments, Rothamsted Insect Survey and the North Wyke Farm Platform. We are strategically funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), with additional support from other national and international funding streams and from industry.

For more information, visit https://www.rothamsted.ac.uk/

About Hertfordshire IQ

Hertfordshire IQ is an Enterprise Zone 30 minutes from London in Hemel Hempstead on J8 of the M1. Hertfordshire IQ is run by seven partners all committed to its long-term success: Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership, Hertfordshire County Council, St Albans City and District Council, Dacorum Borough Council, BRE Group, Rothamsted Research and the University of Hertfordshire.


About Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership

Hertfordshire LEP is one of 38 Local Enterprise Partnerships tasked by the Government to drive forward economic growth and develop Local Industrial Strategies that play to their individual strengths and address local challenges. The LEP has secured over £300m to date to invest in the county’s people, places and businesses. Find out more about Hertfordshire LEP and how it is targeting investment where it is needed most: www.hertfordshirelep.com.

About the Local Growth Fund

Local Enterprise Partnerships are playing a vital role in driving forward economic growth across the country, helping to build a country that works for everyone.

That’s why by 2021 Government will have invested over £12bn through the Local Growth Fund, allowing LEPs to use their local knowledge to get all areas of the country firing on all cylinders. 

Some additional key facts:

  • There are 38 LEPs covering the whole of England
  • The government has awarded £9.1bn in three rounds of Growth Deals to local areas to drive economic growth.
  • LEPs are investing in a wide range of projects including transport, skills, business support, broadband, innovation and flood defences.

For more information, go to www.rothamstedenterprises.com or contact Claire Flawn, Sales & Marketing Manager, claire.flawn@rothamstedenterprises.com Tel: 01582 938500.

[1] As from 1 April 2018 BBSRC became part of United Kingdom Research and Innovation (UKRI) – established as a corporate body through the enactment of UK Higher Education and Research Act 2017 – with the property, rights and liabilities of BBSRC being acquired by UKRI.

Rothamsted’s iconic Russell Building opens for business

By Rothamsted Enterprises20 Nov 2020