PLANS to create 90 new jobs as part of a £100 million economy with 800 jobs near York have been boosted as a private investor takes charge of Government food science agency Fera.

Capita, a national business services provider, has paid £20 million to acquire a 75 per cent stake in the Food and Environment Research Agency (Fera), based at Sand Hutton off the A64.

The move will see the creation of 50 new science based jobs, in addition to almost 400 scientists already employed at Fera, as well as 40 new research posts.

The Government announced in May last year that it was seeking a private investor to work with on a joint venture in a bid to free Fera from public sector constraints and maximise its commercial potential.

The organisation, which last year celebrated its 100th anniversary, has a global reputation for food science expertise, and led the way in identifying horse meat in the food chain in the horse meat scandal.

Following a procurement process Capita has been selected to work with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), which will retain the remaining 25 per cent stake in Fera when the new ownership structure comes into effect from April 1.

Alongside investing £20 million to acquire the organisation, Capita has outlined a further £10 million investment which will join up with £9 million funding from Fera and Newcastle University to create a new research institute, bringing 40 research posts to the city and upgrading the site's facilities.

Capita's investment supports wider plans to create a National AgriFood Innovation Campus at the Fera site, with the potential to bring 800 jobs and £100 million of investment.

Capita chief executive Andy Parker, said: "The excellent science being carried out by staff at Fera has not yet been able to reach its full commercial potential because of obvious limits on investment, recruitment and marketing.

"Capita’s commercial know-how will complement the Fera team’s scientific expertise. Working together, we will create a more efficient and improved organisation allowing scientists to focus on the science and its delivery.

"Crucially, the additional capabilities of Capita and its partners, including Newcastle University, will enable the joint venture to drive commercial and government sector growth."

Captia will work with the York, North Yorkshire and East Riding (YNYER) Local Enterprise Partnership, which has already secured £2.7 million to develop the AgriFood Innovation Campus at the Fera site.

Barry Dodd, chairman of the YNYER partnership, said: "We have recognised the potential for the Sand Hutton site for some time, and are pleased to see this next step taking place.

"Capita will bring commercial acumen to the project, and we look forward to working with them.

"The type of jobs that are going to be created are going to be highly skilled and highly paid and are exactly the type of jobs York people need and deserve. There will also be extra service jobs required to keep the site operational."

Scientists at Fera work to provide evidence, analysis and expert professional advice to government, international organisations and industry to ensure a sustainable and secure food chain. Fera's vision is to be the leading supplier of services across the agrifood chain.

Fera chief executive Hilary Aldridge said: "I am looking forward to working with Capita and Newcastle University to strengthen Fera's existing scientific quality and international reputation.

"By bringing Capita's wealth of commercial and Fera's scientific experience, along with the £14.5m investment, we will safeguard the long term future of Fera and increase our ability to grow our business, both to the UK government and new commercial customers globally.

"This is an exciting time for our staff, customers and for Fera."