Food and beverages make up the largest manufacturing sector in the UK, according to trade association the Food and Drink Federation, with a turnover of £72.6bn , with a gross value added of £21.6bn. It employs some 440,000 people – 14 per cent of the country’s manufacturing workforce.
But according to Sarah Knapper, director of Yorkshire and Humberside’s Regional Food Group, it has suffered from lack of long-term investment in research and development.
She said the new three-year initiative, called Appetizing Innovation, “can provide experts from outside the manufacturing industry who bring a different perspective on innovation for food”.
Adam Collinson of Food and Drink Sector Development at Yorkshire Forward, the regional development agency which is funding the programme, said: “Without doubt there is great potential for food and drink businesses in the region to take advantage of the world class skills, research, knowledge and equipment on their doorstep.
“This initiative will help them compete successfully in the short term as well as further into the future.”
Funding to take part is available for firms within the Yorkshire and Humberside region, but the scheme is open to other manufacturers from other regions, too, of all sizes.
For regional firms a £10,000 project attracts 25 per cent funding – so the company would pay. The funding scales means that a higher proportion of costs is covered for larger projects.
Appetizing Inspiration is being led by the Food Processing Faraday Partnership, a service provider to the food sector. Partners in the project – from which expert consultancy is drawn – are the Regional Food Group (which itself recently received 4.1m in funding from Yorkshore Forward), Sheffield Hallam University’s Centre for Food Innovation, Leeds Metropolitan University, and packaging consultancy Design Futures. Sheffield.
Companies wishing to tap external expertise are visited by a ‘technology translator’ – an experienced food and drink professional – for an assessment and the type of intervention needed.
The technology translator acts as an interface between industry and academia, helping source suitable solution providers, helping develop project outlines, briefs and proposals, and account managing the process.
In addition to the tailored help, the scheme is to offer group activities, such as surgeries, workshops and forums, to focus on ingredients, innovation and packaging.
More information is available from www.fpfaraday.com