The funding from the Welsh Assembly Government, which will be provided over five years, will support a £55m project to create an alliance between Aberystwyth and Bangor Universities.

It will fund purpose-built facilities for research and teaching at the two universities, and new scientific and management posts.

Under the alliance, the newly-formed Institute for Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences (IBERS) at Aberystwyth will team up with Bangor’s College of Natural Sciences to investigate major environmental challenges such as climate change and renewable energy.

Alongside the assembly funding, the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) will invest £14m in capital developments at IBERS and provide ongoing research funding.

Announcing the funding, Education Minister Jane Hutt said: “Living with climate change, renewable energy, global food security, and plant and animal diseases are the grand challenges for the 21st century.”

She added: “This development offers a major opportunity to Wales to create research excellence in areas of importance to Wales.

“It will help raise Wales’ reputation as a place where research of real excellence and relevance can happen.”

Steve Visscher, interim chief executive of BBSRC, said: “The new grouping has the opportunity to build a centre of excellence that can make an impact not only in Wales and the rest of the UK, but globally.

“This move will place environmental and land-based science in Wales on a sustainable footing for the future.”

The Higher Education Funding Council for Wales welcomed the funding.

The environment sector contributes £2.3bn to Wales’ GDP, and one in six of the country’s jobs.

Kate Martin

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