THE universities and science minister is tipping the town for major economic growth after unveiling an estimated £313 million partnership at Daresbury Laboratory on Thursday.

Jo Johnson, brother of London Mayor Boris, revealed details on the Government's partnership with information technology leader IBM, set up to boost 'big data' research in the UK.

It follows on from the Government's £113 million commitment in the autumn statement to expand the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) run Hartree Centre at Daresbury over the next five years.

IBM will further support the project with a package of technology and on-site expertise worth up to £200 million.

Mr Johnson praised the commitment of those involved and believes nearby locations, such as Warrington, will reap the benefits for decades to come.

"This is a great project and is the biggest private sector collaboration for the Hartree Centre so it is a terrific endorsement," he said.

"This offers a huge boost for the local economy here and the north west - what we are doing is putting Hartree at the cutting edge frontier of big data compilation.

"It will be a big driver of jobs globally and we will be at the cutting edge of it."

The Orpington MP admitted funding attributed to research may be overlooked by many but was keen to address the importance of it in the ever-changing environment.

"It has been a substantial Government investment and will be great for the local area," he said.

"Big data is one of the fastest moving areas of business today and Hartree will be at the centre of it.

"We live in an information economy - from the smart devices we use every day to the super computers that helped find the Higgs boson, the power of advances computing means we now have access to vast amounts of data."

During a presentation by STFC officials, Mr Johnson was invited to design a new 'laundry liquid' linked to the 'super computer' at the Daresbury base.

"I am looking forward to seeing what it looks like - I hope they produce it and see whether it works or not but they did seem quite happy with it," he added.

As part of the partnership, at least 24 IBM researchers will be based at the Hartree Centre to work alongside the existing researchers.

STFC and IBM will engage in collaborative projects with third parties and draw on the scientific excellence of universities in the country to develop advanced software solutions to address 'real world' challenges in academia, industry and Government.