Work to start on Broadland Food Innovation Centre

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Construction is about to start on an £11.4m centre on the outskirts of Norwich which aims to exploit the potential of the region’s vibrant food and drink sector.

Broadland Food Innovation Centre, which will be at the centre of the Food Enterprise Park at Honingham, is scheduled to open in 2022 and a ceremony was held on 12 October to mark the beginning of work on the project.

Broadland District Council recently received final confirmation from the European Regional Development Fund for around £5.7m for the food innovation project. This includes the Broadland Food Innovation Centre, bespoke innovation support packages with access to experts on every aspect of business growth, and a cluster which brings together research, academia, supply, production, the food and drink community, charities, government and finance.

This support will be available to both tenants and eligible businesses through Norfolk and Suffolk. The total cost of the food innovation project, led by Broadland District Council, is £11.4m.

Up to £5.7m of funding has been received from the European Regional Development Fund. as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government is the Managing Authority for European Regional Development Fund. Established by the European Union, the European Regional Development Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations.

This project is also 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 remainder of funds and resources will come from Broadland District Council, the University of East Anglia and Hethel Innovation, along with support from City College Norwich and Quadram Institute.

Built on the Food Enterprise Park, off the A47, the 38,000 sq ft development will include 13 food-grade units, two test kitchens, meeting spaces and a sensory tasting facility.

Broadland Food Innovation Centre has been designed to meet both excellent environmental design and British Retail Consortium standards allowing food and drink businesses requiring food grade premises to accelerate their growth plans. Businesses can move into one of the units full-time or book the facilities on an ad hoc basis for tastings, presentations, meetings and more.

The project will provide the combination of four key elements to fast-track growth through innovation: essential physical facilities at the Centre; a tailored innovation support programme managed by Hethel Innovation, access to relevant industry/R&D expertise from the Norwich Research Park, and the UEA-managed food and drink cluster. The innovation support programme and cluster are available from autumn 2021.

Broadland District Council Leader Shaun Vincent said: “This is really exciting news for our district and the whole region. The Broadland Food Innovation Centre project will help us support food and drink businesses and make it easier for existing businesses to expand, boosting the rural economy. The Centre will give us the opportunity to help nurture new ideas and enable us to focus more on processing Norfolk’s and Suffolk’s agricultural output locally, minimising food miles and reducing the environmental impact.”

“It will also enable the development of a leading food and drink business cluster and encourage increased innovation across our leading food sector, identified as one of the three key areas in our clean growth agenda.”

This exciting project offers a unique opportunity for the food and drink sector in Norfolk and Suffolk to capitalise on the region’s expert local knowledge and food supply base. It is perfectly situated to link world-class Norwich Research Park’s work relating to food and health with food and drink businesses, manufacturers and distributors.

The ambition is to contribute to the regional economy by creating the ideal conditions for innovation, creativity and productivity, leading to further wealth creation and high-quality employment opportunities.

C-J Green, Chair of New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “Our food sector is facing unprecedented demand and there are significant opportunities for innovative and aspirational food businesses to capitalise on the rising popularity of local foods and renewed support for smaller businesses. This is a flagship project in the Norfolk and Suffolk Local Industrial Strategy, located in a Food Enterprise Zone, which will provide support for those businesses, create new jobs, and drive growth and productivity.

To enable growth beyond the Centre, the Greater Norwich Food Enterprise Zone, benefits from a Local Development Order (covering 46 acres) to encourage and support more food processing through the co-location of commercial enterprises.

Businesses interested in the facilities at the Broadland Food Innovation Centre should contact Nick Dunn at Brown & Co at [email protected]

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