Thousands of new agri-foodtech jobs in the East Midlands are in the pipeline, following the official opening of the South Lincolnshire Food Enterprise Zone (FEZ).
The official opening marks the completion of the first stage of the project, worth £16M to the Greater Lincolnshire area.
This phase included the building of the University of Lincoln’s new National Centre for Food Manufacturing, Lincolnshire County Council’s Hub for Agricultural Business, and The Institute of Technology Digital Food Manufacturing Centre.
Lincolnshire County Council’s aim is to position the area as the UK’s ‘Food Valley’, acting as a centre for global food manufacture, research and trade.
In total, the South Lincolnshire Food Enterprise Zone will comprise 17 hectares of land, which will boast a mix of high-tech professional facilities for business. Additionally, phase two of the project will see more than 900 homes built in the area.
Lincolnshire County Council’s Hub for Agricultural Business – also known simply as ‘The Hub’ – will sit at the development’s heart. Office space within the building has been tailored to support SMEs in the agri-foodtech sector, with dedicated workshops, testing centres and more.
“Our Hub building reduces risk and uncertainty for new businesses looking to become established or grow,” said Colin Davie, Lincolnshire County Council Executive Councillor for Economy, Environment and Strategic Planning. “We want to go much further than simply letting this space though, and have created a dynamic business environment for our tenants and the wider business community.”
Meanwhile the University of Lincoln’s National Centre for Food Manufacturing is being billed as a dedicated facility to provide food industry workers with further education, research and business opportunities.
Jayne Almond, Director of Policy and Corporate Affairs at the Food and Drink Federation, added: “I’m excited to see how local and national food and drink companies use the expertise in cutting edge, pioneering technology and innovation on offer to grow their business and increase their productivity.
“The local area will also hugely benefit from the skills and business support the zone has to offer and I’m looking forward to returning to the Food Enterprise Zone in the coming months to see the growth of the project.”
The FEZ is the latest in a growing list of centres dedicated to foodtech. Just across the border in Norfolk, the £11.4M Broadland Food Innovation Centre opened its doors over the summer.