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Minister marks ‘Topping Out’ milestone for new world-class laboratory build

25 Oct 11 An over £100 million new laboratory which is being constructed by Shepherd Construction on behalf of the Institute for Animal Health (IAH) in Pirbright, Surrey and its corporate trustee " the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) " was topped out this week in a ceremony led by the Minister for Universities and Science, David Willetts.

The 11,065 m² high containment laboratory at Pirbright in Surrey will enable the IAH to build upon its position as a world-leading centre of excellence for research into viral diseases of livestock. The project is being developed with funding from BBSRC and the Department for Business Innovation and Skills Large Facilities Capital Fund.

The new building, which will achieve a ‘Very Good’ BREEAM rating, is due to be up and running in 2014 and will comprise a central hub with north, east and west wings, accommodating around 150 highly-skilled scientists and support staff.

As a key part of the build, M&E subcontractor SES is utilising its PRISM off-site manufacturing arm to test plant off-site and ensure it meets the exacting standards and accuracy needed in the project.

Minister for Universities and Science David Willetts said: "The Government has made significant investment in this world-class facility, ensuring the UK remains at the forefront of research into animal diseases. This brings benefits for animal and human health, the agricultural industry and global food security. I am very impressed by the outstanding progress being made here at Pirbright."

Mark Perkins, chief executive Shepherd Built Environment Division commented: “We’re delighted that the Minister could be with us to help celebrate a major milestone in the construction programme. The project is complex and has necessitated extremely close collaboration across a number of Shepherd Group companies right from the start to ensure the building’s frame is configured to suit the services requirement.

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“We are now focussing on completing the building and installing the services before the commissioning stage.”

IAH Director Professor Fazakerley said: “This new building is part of an ambitious vision for the Institute, which will provide our world-class researchers with unrivalled facilities to take forward their research into some of the most economically and socially important viruses on the planet.”

“The lab will house scientists and staff in a unique facility that includes brand-new and improved approaches to high containment. These approaches have been developed through an excellent programme of research and development running alongside the build.”

The new lab will be the centre of what will eventually form a globally important campus bringing together unique infrastructure, leading scientists, support for collaboration and space to nurture and grow synergistic small and medium enterprises. This will provide a unique national capability that will be an unrivalled resource for researchers and industry across the UK animal health sector and beyond. IAH is already at the centre of many international networks and partnerships and the envisioned campus can support and strengthen such collaborations.

Professor Douglas Kell, Chief Executive, BBSRC said “We at BBSRC are tremendously proud to be supporting the excellent and vital work done at the Institute for Animal Health. With the backing of the Department for Business Innovation and Skills we have been able to fund this strategically important project, which in total exceeds 100 million pounds. This will enable the institute to continue its ground-breaking and world-changing research into important diseases of livestock such as foot-and-mouth, bluetongue, and African swine fever.”

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