Free scientific support to help Derbys and Notts food and drink manufacturers grasp opportunities and overcome the challenges of 2021

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Food scientists are standing by to provide vital scientific and technical support to food and drink producers in Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire in the new year as they navigate the impacts of the COVID pandemic.

Grasping opportunities will be the key to future success, and the team at the Food Innovation Centre is keen to support forward-thinking businesses as they adapt to the challenges ahead.

Richard Worrall, who heads the Driving Research and Innovation Project at the Food Innovation Centre, believes that small and medium-sized enterprises are the key to economic growth, because they are agile with topical and relevant products and processes. Though they may have immediate issues more based on survival, they still stand the best chance of success, and he’s urging them to take advantage of the free scientific support on offer.

The Food Innovation Centre has already supported more than 170 food and drink manufacturers in the D2N2 area over the past few years, across a number of sectors, such as brewing, baking, cheese making, ice cream production, pie making, pizza base manufacturing and more.

Now the University of Nottingham-based team is looking for eligible small and medium-sized food and drink manufacturers to support in 2021…offering free scientific and technical knowledge and advice under the Driving Research and Innovation Project.

“We want to help food and drink entrepreneurs to make the most of these challenging times and evolving markets. We are keen to discuss any issues that food and drink producers and manufacturers in Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire want to tackle that will aid their commercial development and we’d urge them to get in touch to find out more about the free expertise available,” explained Richard.

“We’re in difficult times, but the experts at the Food Innovation Centre are on hand to help businesses exploit opportunities that could be key to their development as we navigate the pandemic. We are already helping a number of eligible businesses but are looking for more to work with in 2021, to share the extensive knowledge and expertise we have at the Food Innovation Centre.”

Previous beneficiaries of support from the team have praised the help they have received.

One start-up company that has worked with the Food Innovation Centre is Myconeos Ltd, which has undertaken microbiological research, using ground-breaking techniques, to develop new strains of Penicillium Roqueforti with novel characteristics for mould-ripened cheese production.

The enterprise, based at Bio City in Nottingham, received support on end-product trials, commercial collaborations, accreditation and social media marketing.

Myconeos CEO Dr Jacek Obuchowicz said: “When you’re a start-up, there are so many challenges: time, money, energy. Having access to this knowledgeable, practical support has given us the right connections and helped us get to market quicker.”

The Driving Research and Innovation Project is a three-year project that runs until the end of December 2022. Part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) via the D2N2 LEP, the project is run by the Food Innovation Centre at the University of Nottingham School of Biosciences, in conjunction with the Chemistry Innovation Laboratory in the School of Chemistry and Institute for Advanced Manufacturing and in association with the Midlands Engine. It is a unique collaboration project that provides free specialist innovation support to small and medium-sized businesses.

Outlining the support on offer to eligible firms, Richard Worrall added: “We have a team of food industry technologists, funded by the ERDF, who can offer free access to scientific knowledge, facilities and expertise to help overcome any issues companies may have and boost development. We also work alongside other specialist organisations like the Food & Drink Forum, universities (Nottingham Trent and Derby) and the D2N2 Growth Hub to support growth.

“Whether it is product formulation related to nutrition (healthy, protein alternatives, etc.), flavour and texture, sustainable production around sourcing ingredients, packaging, shelf life & microbiological testing or waste management, contact us for a discussion.

“We can also get involved in business planning to underpin development and can access the latest in digital manufacturing, artificial intelligence and process efficiency from across the University and via our external partners.”

For more information about the Food Innovation Centre and to get in touch with experts who can help, visit https://www.nottingham.ac.uk/biosciences/facilities/food-innovation-centre.aspx  or email SB-FoodInnovCentre@exmail.nottingham.ac.uk

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