• Refurbishment work has been completed on the Russell Building on the Rothamsted campus in Harpenden, Hertfordshire
  • New tenant companies are already ready to join the thriving ecosystem of agri-tech, agri-food, food-tech and innovation businesses
  • The beautiful red-brick Russell Building, steeped in history, has excellent transport links and will house 22 offices and up to 118 people
  • 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 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.”