A topping out ceremony has been held at the Broadland Food Innovation Centre which will support and fast-track the growth and success of food and drink businesses across Norfolk and Suffolk.
Councillors from Broadland District Council were joined at the site in Honingham, near Norwich, by partners from New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, Hethel Innovation and University of East Anglia, for the event in April.
Council Leader Councillor Shaun Vincent said: “This exciting project has taken an important step towards completion and we are looking forward to welcoming our first tenants in the summer. Broadland District Council is committed to supporting the local economy and the BFIC will become a centre of excellence providing the perfect environment for businesses to grow and realise their full potential.”
The scheme underpins the council’s ambition to provide the best environment for business growth by providing bespoke units with wrap-around services that will help food businesses in the region grow and develop. It will offer 13 food-grade incubation units, two test kitchens, a sensory kitchen, meeting rooms and state of the art conferencing facilities.
There has already been significant interest from food companies seeking to move into the Centre. The build is on schedule and tenants will be able to start moving in from this August, with full opening in autumn. The project team continues to welcome enquiries from potential tenants.
Food sector companies can already benefit from fully-funded Innovation Support worth £250,000 subject to eligibility, and join the free Food Innovation Cluster. Both services are coordinated respectively by Hethel Innovation and the University of East Anglia.
Tenants will benefit from being in an optimum environment alongside other food businesses, all accessing bespoke innovation support, with membership of the newly-formed food and drink cluster. Tenants will also have access to research and development being carried out at the Norwich Research Park.
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 supported by New Anglia LEP, 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.
C-J Green, Chair of New Anglia LEP, said: “This centre will provide bespoke innovation support to food businesses across the region and establish a regional food and drink innovation cluster which will add value by significantly increasing the amount of local produce that is processed locally.
“It will also enable ground-breaking collaborations with the world-leading research institutions at Norwich Research Park, which are making a leading contribution to addressing the challenges of food and energy security, health ageing and environmental change.”
Businesses interested in the facilities at the Broadland Food Innovation Centre should contact Nick Dunn at Brown & Co via [email protected]