Food and drinks businesses have seen for the first time an £11.4m facility which aims to help Norfolk process far more of its own produce and keep its value in the local economy.
Located at Honingham, near Norwich, the Broadland Food Innovation Centre is part of a major project designed to support and fast-track the growth of businesses in the sector across Norfolk and Suffolk.
The centre offers 13 food-grade incubation units, two test kitchens, a sensory kitchen, meeting rooms and state-of-the-art conferencing facilities. In addition, food sector companies already benefit from fully-funded Innovation Support, worth up to £250,000 subject to eligibility, and join the free Food Innovation Cluster. Both services are coordinated by Hethel Innovation and the University of East Anglia.
Firm commitments have already been made on two out of four of the large units, and there is a promising pipeline of serious enquiries.
Councillor Trudy Mancini-Boyle, Deputy Leader of Broadland District Council, and project partners welcomed more than 100 guests at a reception on Thursday 22 September to mark 12 months of collaboration and hard work to complete construction and the beginning of new era of economic opportunity for the regional food sector.
“This is a tremendous achievement and highlights the work done by Broadland District Council to support local businesses and our local economy,” said Councillor Mancini-Boyle.
“The facilities available here will enable food processing to happen in our district rather than outside of the region. This is not only good for local business, it is also good for the environment.”
The project has received £5.7m of funding from the European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020. It is also supported by New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, which has contributed £4.14m — £2.7m from the HM Government Getting Building Fund and £1.44m from the New Anglia LEP Growing Places Fund.
The balance of funds and resources come from Broadland District Council, the University of East Anglia and Hethel Innovation, along with support from City College Norwich and Quadram Institute.
Chris Starkie, Chief Executive of New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, Professor Andrew Fearne of University of East Anglia, Clarke Willis MBE and Trevor Holden, Managing Director of Broadland District Council, also shared their perspectives on expectations for the regional economy, the ongoing food business sector research and the potential for significant growth of food businesses on the Food Enterprise Park.
They were joined by Dr Rose Barnes, Deputy Lieutenant, and Councillor Sue Prutton, Vice Chair of Broadland District Council.
Guests enjoyed Ronaldo’s ice cream, Bread Source pastries and Etude coffee. They are three of the 50-plus businesses already benefiting from bespoke Innovation Support available as part of the project and are among the 100 businesses which have joined the emerging Cluster and attended over 20 events to date.
For information on Innovation Support and Cluster programme please visit https://www.foodinnovationbroadland.com