The Food and Drink (FDF) Innovation Gateway will be a one-stop online tool, developed by the FDF which connects businesses in the sector – particularly small- and medium- sized businesses – with a range of independent advice and expertise, from commercial authorities through to universities and government-backed programmes.
The partnership will support companies to develop and grow their businesses through the adoption of existing and new technologies, including automation, AI and digital, as well as improving their energy efficiency, reduce waste and help to tackle labour shortages.
“The UK’s food and drink businesses are the lifeblood of our homes and our communities. But these companies are often small and struggle to find the bandwidth and the right support to invest in the right technologies and innovation to help them grow to their full potential,” explained Karen Betts, Chief Executive of FDF. “The FDF’s Innovation Gateway is designed to provide a much-needed ‘single point of entry’ for companies in our sector which are looking to invest in innovation, automation, new technologies and environmental sustainability. It will help to match businesses with the right support, which already exists in a range of different organisations across the UK but which can be difficult to identify and access.”
Food and Farming Minister Mark Spencer MP said the move will help create accessibility to food and drink manufacturers, in particular SMEs who make up 98% of food and drink manufacturers and employ 146,000 people across the country.
“They are global leaders in innovation and I am delighted the FDF’s new Food and Drink Innovation Gateway will be open to them, making it easier for them to adopt new technology,” Mark said.
Following a successful pilot with FDF member companies, the scheme is now open to all food and drink manufacturers across Britain. Experts in the world of research and higher education, such as the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre and the University of Lincoln, will offer a free consultation and production line walk to identify areas of improvement and potential solutions, while helping businesses to de-risk investments and implement the technology.
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