What We Do

What we own:

We own the properties at Norwich Research Park occupied by John Innes Centre, Sainsbury Laboratory and Earlham Institute. We also own land currently leased to Anglia Innovation Partners LLP on part of which has been developed Centrum and Leaf Systems:

What we fund or support:


  • The John Innes Foundation PhD Programme in Plant and Microbial Sciences

Research Grants

  • JIC Chris J. Leaver Fellowship
  • JIC Sir Ben Gill Fellowship
  • UEA fellowships within the Norwich Institute for Sustainable Development
  • Earlham Institute Fellowship in data driven science
  • Quadram Institute Amylose Research Fellowship

Education Grants

  • An agricultural bursary, awarded annually to a young person from a non-farming background
  • Other grants are provided to organisations providing education to young persons opening up career pathways in agriculture and research environments critical to future world food supplies and public health
  • The Rutlish Foundation based in Merton, south London, where the Charity was founded.

Other Grants

  • Administration of the Rare Books Collection at JIC
  • Student support activities at JIC
  • Recreational facilities at JIC for the benefit of students, staff and their families
  • Initiatives aimed at encouraging the public understanding of, and engagement with, plant science
  • AIP Seed Enterprise Fund
  • John Innes Society
  • Major capital infrastructure projects across the John Innes Centre and Norwich Research Park

Further information on selected Charitable Activities

The John Innes Foundation PhD Programme in Plant and Microbial Sciences

JIF provide substantial support to the Rotation PhD programme, at the John Innes Centre and the Sainsbury Laboratory. This programme is renowned for its academic excellence and ground breaking research attracting elite candidates from around the world.

There are currently 21 students (11 from the UK) on this rolling 4 Year programme who pursue three short research rotations during their first year, with the aim of enhancing their research training, before selecting a supervisor and a topic for their main research project.

Students benefit from the experience of a wide range of experimental approaches and research environments, as well as the empowerment of student choice in the selection of both research topics and supervisors.

It is important to JIF that we keep in touch with previous students and are delighted to have done so with Meluleki Zihali, Yiliang Ding and Frank Sainsbury. Please see their references of the programme by clicking here.

Chris Leaver Fellowship

This 5 Year Fellowship commenced January 2019 with a significant contribution from JIF of £411k over the 5 year term.  The specific research project was devised with JIC and competitively procured in the very relevant area of starch synthesis in plants at the molecular level, in light of concerns around diet, nutrition and healthy living. 

Sir Ben Gill Fellowship

A project to consolidate the outputs of JIC’s pea research, and to configure the germplasm to create a pre-breeding resource, establish and refine genomics based breeding tools with a vision to accelerate their translation into new pea varieties with industry demands for pea protein to supplement other food staples, and to meet changing dietary requirements for better health. This 5-year project commenced November 2020 with funding of £430k over the term, including equipment of £43k.

UEA Development Fellowship – Norwich Institute of Sustainable Development.

Funding of £750k was awarded for two Fellows over a 5 year term starting August 2020 to intensify collaboration between the University of East Anglia’s School of International Development, the John Innes Centre and other bodies to facilitate joint projects with regard to agriculture in developing countries and the use of agricultural technologies.

Earlham Institute Fellowship

This 4 Year Fellowship commenced March 2021 with funding of £333k over the term from JIF. The project in data driven science aims at contributing to closing a recognised skills gap in computational biology aiding important national and global future developments in agricultural traits.

Amylose Research Fellowship

A 2 year Fellowship was agreed with the Quadram Institute commencing October 2020 with JIF funding of £161k. The project aims to produce high resistant starch content with favourable nutritional characteristics that can then be used as the basis for future projects to transfer knowledge into crop plants and future commercialisation in functional health-promoting foods.

Agricultural Bursaries

The John Innes Foundation Agricultural Bursary started in the 2017/2018 academic year and  finances one student per year who is taking a 3 year degree course. The candidate will be aiming for a career in either Farm Management, Agronomy, Field trials or Farmed Environmental Services, and typically be from a non farming background.

The Bursary will cover all tuition fees for the three year degree course and will be paid each term to the successful student depending on positive course tutor feedback. All candidates are judged on a number of criteria and selection is done on a competitive basis.

In addition, the successful student will be mentored by Keith Norman, a JIF trustee, who will facilitate work experience during breaks from University term times.  Several organisations have offered work experience / placements which include Velcourt, NIAB, Hutchinsons and the National Trust Farms.

JIF’s latest Bursary was awarded to Charlie Rogers who has this to say “Agriculture is a seemingly difficult industry to start a career in if you are not from a farming background.

However, in recent years, access to the industry for students is becoming far more accessible and support from corporations such as the John Innes Foundation drives many candidates to pursue high end positions in agriculture. 

The bursary amplifies a positive attitude towards university encouraging you to make the most out of every opportunity presented to you, big or small. The financial freedom gained by the bursary allows you to focus all your efforts on the best steps to take post-graduation rather than being concerned about paying back debt. Additionally, this bursary comes with a handful of significant contacts and possible future employers, which is incredibly useful for individuals not from a farming background. 

Overall, this bursary has changed my perspective on what is achievable at and after university for individuals willing to put in the effort, opening doors and creating pathways for success.”

Bursary Applications are administered by the Royal Norfolk Agricultural Association, and applications for 2024 University intake will be open from 1st May 2024. Please visit https://www.rnaa.org.uk/rnaa-opportunities-fund/


Food & Farming Discovery Trust

F&FDT has been established by the Royal Norfolk Agricultural Association to communicate and coordinate existing food, farming and countryside activities in Norfolk.  JIF is pleased to support F&FDT in a variety of ways, providing annual support. This has included the landmark trailer project, aimed at visiting schools around the country to broaden the knowledge of young people of food & farming, and more recently the Gaia event in Norwich featured in an EDP news article.

John Innes Centre Undergradute Summer School 

Funding of £20k per annum was agreed for 3 years to provide undergraduate students of any nationality with the unique opportunity to spend the summer experiencing first-hand what it is like to work in a world leading research environment. Link to JIC.

John Innes Centre Year in Industry

Funding of £20,168 agreed for a scheme supporting science education that has been running since 2013 and provides a unique springboard for some of the UK’s most talented undergraduate scientists with work placements within research groups at JIC

AIP Seed Enterprise Fund

A grant of £75k was awarded for the pilot of a new fund complimenting support from UKRI and BBSRC enabling a range of pre-seed support interventions to take ideas through to a viable and fundable business. The launch of this fund was featured in the EDP.

Historical Collections

The John Innes Foundation Historical Collections include important early copies of botanical books and herbals, the earliest dating back to 1511. Subjects include plant anatomy, medical botany, plant pathology, horticulture, plant breeding and agriculture.  The collection includes copies of the very rare Hortus Floridus (Crispin de Passe, 1614), John Gerard’s Herball or General Historie of Plantes (1597), Parkinson’s Paradisi in Sole (1656), Curtis’s Botanical Magazine (from 1787), Redouté’s Les Liliacées and Sibthorpe’s Flora Graeca (1806-1840).

JIF provide ongoing support in funding administrative costs and recently also provided a grant of £89k for air handling units to maintain a controlled environment to protect this valuable resource.

Norwich Research Park

JIF is the owner of major land and building assets at Norwich Research Park.  It was instrumental in the establishment of AIP LLP, the business established by all stakeholders to lead the further development of the Park and to provide the full range of management and support services required.  The Park is now home to over 80 businesses, 12,000 employees and 3,000 clinicians.

JIF also supports the provision of facilities at the Park, aimed at making it a better place for those that work & study there.  The most recent example is the Chestnut Nursery School to which JIF contributed £275,000.