Construction complete on Lincolnshire agri-food research and development facility

Food industry businesses will soon be able to benefit from state-of-the-art technology at a brand-new, bespoke agri-food research and development facility in Lincolnshire.

With construction now complete, the University of Lincoln’s Centre of Excellence in Agri-food Technologies is the first building on site at the new South Lincolnshire Food Enterprise Zone in Holbeach, and the latest development in an ambitious vision to put Lincolnshire on the map as a global leader in the agri-tech sector.

Building on the success of the University’s National Centre for Food Manufacturing (NCFM), it will act as an innovation hub – primarily promoting the rapid uptake of advanced technologies such as robotics and automation across the food supply chain.

Expert staff will be based at the Centre, including industry scientists and their support teams, uniquely focused on delivering innovation support services, pioneering research, skills provision and knowledge exchange for agri-food businesses across Lincolnshire and beyond, strengthening the county’s position as a key player in the agri-tech sector.

Specialist facilities including microbiology and chemistry laboratories, a high-tech test kitchen and sensory suite, break space and seminar rooms, will be readily accessible to businesses located across the Food Enterprise Zone and the wider Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership area.

Professor Val Braybrooks, Dean of the University’s Holbeach Campus and NCFM, said: “The Centre of Excellence in Agri-food Technologies is a fabulous facility which will significantly strengthen the University’s capacity to lead technical innovation and skills development with food businesses and support those high-tech, entrepreneurial businesses located on the South Lincolnshire Food Enterprise Zone.

“We are delighted that the National Centre for Food Manufacturing should be pivotal to this exciting development which will put South Lincolnshire and Greater Lincolnshire’s Agri-food sector on the global map, affording an unprecedented level of opportunity for both businesses and our local communities.”

Professor Andrew Hunter, Pro Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation at the University of Lincoln, said: “Food Manufacturing is at the heart of the University’s research and knowledge exchange, and we are delighted to act as ‘anchor tenants’ to this critical development. Our ambition is to partner with local and global businesses to create one of the most innovative food manufacturing hubs in the world.”

Pat Doody, Chair of the Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “Serving our key agri-food clusters in the heart of the UK Food Valley, this centre of excellence will provide the university-led research required to grow and evolve our South Lincolnshire Food Enterprise Zone.

“It will strengthen its national and international connections, enabling knowledge transfer and providing direct on-site education and skills development to support the sector.

“Delivering both innovation support services and invaluable expertise via the new centre, the university will promote the rapid take-up of advanced technologies to ensure that the sector remains competitive across the food supply chain and beyond.

“The LEP is delighted to have invested £2.3m into the development of this strategically important scheme.”

The South Lincolnshire Food Enterprise Zone is funded by the Greater Lincolnshire LEP, Lincolnshire County Council and the Midlands Engine, with South Holland District Council and the University of Lincoln partners in the scheme. A physical launch event for the building is scheduled for the autumn, subject to Government guidance at the time.