Food and drink businesses and supply chain firms joined partners behind the Broadland Food Innovation Centre, including Broadland District Council, University of East Anglia, New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership and Hethel Innovation, to celebrate its achievements and look to the future at the recent Royal Norfolk Show.
The reception was attended by more than 80 people who enjoyed local food and drinks supplied by Niche Cocktails, Oichi Ferments and D&F McCarthy.
Since the project began, 142 food and drink businesses have received specialised support and 40 collaborations created between industry and academia. The Cluster has gained over 500 members and organised more than 50 events, including the first Nourish Conference and the Food & Drink Expo presence, which unlocked significant national sales opportunities for regional food and drink businesses. Recent tenant arrivals at the Centre include award-winning Farmyard Frozen and Norfolk Rum.
Speakers were Trevor Holden, Managing Director of Broadland District Council, Chris Starkie, Outgoing Chief Executive of New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership and Alex Larter, Food Innovation Cluster Manager of University of East Anglia, and they all confirmed their long-term commitment to offering the valuable combination of space and support, with the Centre, support and Cluster.
Trevor Holden, Managing Director of Broadland District Council, said: “We have the potential right here with these emerging businesses, our region’s food production and the intellectual resource at UEA and NRP to become the google of food innovation.
“This Broadland Food Innovation Centre project demonstrates what common purpose can achieve, in this case working closely with our partners the UEA and Hethel Innovation, and I’m excited for the future of our food and drink sector.”
Attendees were full of praise. “It’s really good as a small business owner to know that you’re not alone, with other small businesses out there, said Petra Parker from Cavell Orchards. “There is a lovely community, it’s beautiful and it’s great.”
Fiona Robertson from Candi’s Cupboard added: “The event was really useful to see a little hint about what the future holds, and it’s just good to see that it’s not stopping, there is more to come.”
When the ERDF-funded phase concludes at the end of June 2023, Broadland District Council and New Anglia LEP are ensuring continuity of the expert Innovation Support services, which will be delivered by Hethel Innovation until 2026, as well as managing the bespoke food-grade facilities at the Centre in the long term.
Working with the University of East Anglia, all parties are committed to the future of the growing Innovation Cluster, with plans to be confirmed soon. The intention is to build on the valuable work achieved to date, accelerating business growth and adding value to the local economy through food processing and drink production.