Windfall of up to �15m for food manufacturing schemes

UP to �15million is on offer to anyone who can come up with ways to transform food manufacturing and reduce waste under a scheme launched by Food and Farming Minister Jim Paice.

The money is part of a Government-backed drive to support pioneering research and development that unlocks the huge potential of the UK’s �87billion farming, food and drink sector, and helps drive economic recovery. Ideas could encompass anything from sound waves to cook, to foods that fill you up faster.

Mr Paice said: “The UK has a world class reputation for innovation. I want to take this strength and use it to the economic advantage of the whole country.

“That’s why the Government is investing �15 million in the development of cutting edge ideas that increase efficiency and reduce waste in farming, food and drink production and manufacturing.

“By getting businesses innovating and enhancing the UK’s reputation as a world class pioneer of new production and manufacturing techniques, the food and farming sector can be a real engine for growth.”

Two competitions were launched at the Farming, Food and Drink Innovation Summit last week. Funded in combination by the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), the Technology Strategy Board (TSB), Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and the Scottish Government, the aim is to help industry develop new ideas and products that improve food production and manufacturing while having less impact on the environment.

Previous recipients of this type of award include a team at Heriot-Watt University in Scotland, which used ultrasound to improve the quality and nutritional value of bread and cakes while making production more energy efficient.

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Up to �15m in grants is on offer to bigger businesses to invest in projects that will increase the efficiency, sustainability and competitiveness of food processing and manufacturing. A further �500,000 will also be available to small and medium sized businesses, with grants of up to �25,000.

Following the summit there will be seven regional workshops across Scotland, Wales, England and Northern Ireland where businesses can find out more about the competitions and their opening dates. The regional summit for the East of England takes place in Peterborough next Wednesday (March 28).