The Alliston Centre is a tribute to Professor John Alliston, who tragically died last year.
A state-of-the-art building packed with the latest technology to help new rural and agri-tech enterprises grow has been opened at the Royal Agricultural University.
The Alliston Centre is a tribute to Professor John Alliston, who tragically died last year. He had worked for the RAU for more than 20 years.
The Alliston Centre is the culmination of a £4.2m project which will support both rural and agri-tech businesses.
One floor will be used by Farm491, the RAU’s expanding agritech innovation and incubation hub, and another will be home to the Cirencester Growth Hub, an initiative which will help boost the county’s economy by assisting local businesses, of all sizes and from all sectors, to accelerate growth, create new jobs and achieve their potential.
The building was officially opened on Thursday (July 26) by NFU president Minette Batters, who paid tribute to a ‘special and brilliant man’. She was accompanied by Prof Alliston’s wife Petey and son Michael.
RAU vice-chancellor Joanna Price said: “Entrepreneurship and innovation are at the heart of the RAU.
“As part of our campus, the Alliston Centre will be instrumental in developing business acumen and an entrepreneurship mind-set in our students, skills that will be critical for enabling the land-based sector to cope with the current uncertainty and unprecedented rate of change.
“Helping our sector to recognise this was part of John Alliston’s great legacy.”
Via a pre-recorded video, HRH The Prince of Wales also paid tribute to Prof Alliston, adding ‘he recognised that business skills were vital for the future prosperity of the farming sector’.
He said the Alliston Centre would provide students and people living in the area with ‘the necessary stepping stone’ to develop their business ideas.
“As we look back on his career, what stands out is John Alliston’s foresight in identifying and seeking to develop the business skills that young farmers would increasingly require,” Prince Charles said.
“Giving our guardians of the land the knowledge to adapt and develop their businesses to ensure commercial viability, while at the same time protecting and enhancing nature’s capacity to sustain us all on a finite planet, is of crucial importance.”
A number of businesses are already benefiting from the centre, including Cotswold beef jerky enterprise CopperNose which was set up by Daniel Derry and his brother Liam who attended RAU, and diAgri, a smart monitoring solution for livestock which helps to track and detail animal location, movement and monitors health and wellbeing.
diAgri founder Ian Bester said he had been looking at various incubator facilities across London when he found The Alliston Centre in Gloucestershire.
“None of these had the relevant agricultural connection, knowledge and experience that I was searching for," he said.
"I then found Farm491. The hub has helped me progress product development and supported in setting up my business.”
The centre is also home to the Pasture-Fed Livestock Association (PFLA). Founder Russ Carrington said: “Being close to the RAU gives us opportunities, no least to offer work placements for students but we also not have room for other volunteers to come and help with the running of PFLA.”