New venture to boost sustainable food manufacturing in the UK

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The Government has agreed to provide £12m in funding to help launch a high-tech food manufacturing campus and adjacent energy plant in Derby.

It will also provide an additional £6.85m to establish a manufacturing research centre in the city, generating 70 new roles and helping scores of local companies to access cutting-edge expertise to grow their operations in low-carbon and other advanced technologies.

At the centre of the plans is a new £300m high-tech food manufacturing and distribution campus in the city, to be developed and operated by SmartParc on 140 acres of the former Celanese site near Spondon.

SmartParc chief executive Jackie Wild commented: “SmartParc is part of a £300m investment to put Derby city and the UK at the heart of the future of sustainable food manufacturing globally.

“The planned SmartParc campus will combine world-class food production facilities with shared utilities, amenities and services to provide a highly sustainable, low-cost production base for food manufacturers and new ways to reach end customers while reducing food miles and food waste.

“It will also act as a community hub, with a new food innovation centre and skills facility and planned partnerships with local charities, schools and universities to reconnect people with the food they eat.

“We are delighted to receive Government backing for our ambition and look forward to working with Derby City Council, local universities, businesses and communities to share our vision and deliver up to 4,500 new jobs in the area over the coming years.”

The campus would include a shared energy plant, designed to reduce energy consumption by 30 per cent, and would harness the latest technology to improve production and efficiency, lowering costs by 20 per cent.

It will embrace the latest scientific developments, such as vertical farming where crops are grown indoors in stacked layers, mitigating the vagaries of the weather and eliminating the need for pesticides.

A central distribution facility will allow manufacturers to consolidate both raw materials and finished goods, improving efficiency and lowering food miles.

As well as creating up to 4,500 direct jobs, the project would generate further employment in the supply chain and throughout the local region.

Work will start in the first quarter of 2021 and a planned opening, with initial occupancy, will take place later that year. Full project realisation is expected by 2024.

The Government has also agreed to support the launch of an advanced manufacturing research centre at Infinity Park, Derby.

The move follows the success of a pilot project run over the past 18 months and would see an exciting new partnership formed to help businesses in the region boost employment through innovation.

The £20m initiative would create a new permanent home for the Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre, an organisation which helps companies develop new techniques and processes to win work in the nuclear sector and tackle manufacturing challenges in automotive, rail, aerospace, renewable energy and other high-value sectors.

It would also become a base for the University of Derby’s Institute of Innovation in Sustainable Engineering, which has developed an international reputation for innovation in design, manufacturing, product life-cycle management and the application of new and smart materials.

Derby City Council Leader, Chris Poulter, added: “Throughout the past four months we have been doing all we can to support existing businesses but also looking at opportunities for the future – to diversify our economy, to improve our environmental credentials and to make Derby a brilliant place to live and work.”