The Eden Campus site is located in the small village of Guardbridge, five miles west of St Andrews. The 9.6 hectare site contains a mix of land and buildings which formerly comprised the paper mill and associated activities, and includes a number of listed buildings associated with the mill.
Since the closure of the paper mill in 2008, much of the mill machinery has been removed and a small microbrewery has been established in the southwest corner of the site.
The Eden Campus site has a long history of industrial use. A distillery was first founded on the main site in 1855 and operated until 1894.
In 1894 the main site was converted into a papermill. The site continued to be used to manufacture paper until 2008 when the site closed. The University of St Andrews acquired the site in 2010, the principal objective of the purchase being to develop an energy centre.
In addition to an energy centre, the University recognised the potential of the wider site in terms of the ability to provide research and development opportunities as well as employment opportunities for University and local companies.
The GENEration Storage Innovation and Sustainability Centre (GENESIS) is a new facility for research and development activity in storing and converting energy. It will provide a space where companies can access University and industrial expertise, engage with other companies, build business-to-business collaborations, and develop and experimentally test innovative new approaches to the development of low-carbon energy systems. These low-carbon systems would include energy based on:
- ammonia and hydrogen for energy storage
- carbon capture and utilisation
- fuel cell development and construction
- overall energy system management.
The Centre will be seen as a business-facing facility. It represents the deployment of the University’s interface between research and applied commercialisation in areas of energy conversion and storage. It will be a place where companies can access both equipment and knowledge – providing facilities to test products, on the one hand, while also providing a forum for engagement between companies and with the academics driving the extensive energy-related work in which the University is engaged.
In attracting private partners, interaction between private businesses will be facilitated and encouraged, on the principle that other companies are your potential collaborators, not your competitors. It will be designed in a way to grow a body of energy-related economic activity around Eden Campus, to act as a catalyst for wider economic growth in the Fife and Tay cities.
In doing so, the GENESIS facility will complement other innovation centres in Scotland which provide test or demonstration space for low-carbon technologies, particularly the following:
- National Manufacturing Institute Scotland (at Strathclyde)
- Power Networks Distribution Centre (also at Strathclyde)
- Michelin Scotland Innovation Parc (MSIP) in Dundee.
St Andrews already has contact with all these facilities through involvement in the Energy Technology Partnership, and through links made with Michelin Scotland Innovation Parc (MSIP) to ensure that the two facilities are complementary.
There is a strong synergy between what is proposed at MSIP and Eden Campus. The University of St Andrews offers a strong academic base to complement the strong manufacturing offering at MSIP. The activities are complementary focusing on slightly different ranges in the technology readiness scale (TRL). This synergy is already apparent, and we are in discussions to formalise this with an outline protocol to ensure synergy and cross-referral of companies. Illustrating the synergy, the largest activity currently proposed for Michelin relates to a company that works closely with St Andrews on research and development, and this relationship has greatly improved the prospects of that company setting up in Dundee. A recent £12 million grant led by St Andrews in the relevant area serves to further reinforce these prospects.
The GENESIS Centre will inevitably combine different kinds of space, to be used for different purposes. This will include a combination of:
- Shared workshop space – the ‘dirty’ space where companies can test products in a ‘plug and play’ formations using shared equipment.
- Lab space, for research, desk prototyping, etc.
- Co-working space – hot desks, shared environment, cafe area: a place to meet, interact and share ideas
- Meeting rooms, in a variety of sizes and configurations to facilitate collaboration and training potential.