Saturday, October 31, 2020

Government chooses automation and robotics in Lincolnshire’s food sector as new investment opportunity

Automation and robotics in the food sector in Greater Lincolnshire has been chosen as one of the Government’s 19 new investment opportunities across the UK.

The announcement means the area will now work with the Department for International Trade (DIT) to attract overseas investment into agrifood automation and robotics projects and businesses in Greater Lincolnshire.

The High Potential Opportunities (HPO) scheme aims to increase inward investment into the UK and help the country build back better.

DIT’s global network based in 177 cities around the world will now provide support to the agrifood automation and robotics cluster by showcasing opportunities internationally and contacting investors to promote the opportunities.

Next month partners from DIT, the Greater Lincolnshire LEP, Lincolnshire County Council, district councils, universities and industry will meet to start work on Greater Lincolnshire’s HPO in food processing, automation and robotics.

DIT will then use the resulting commercial proposition to put Greater Lincolnshire on an international stage through its sector teams and network of posts across the globe.

The expectation is that the HPO will attract more inward investment to the area and create more high-quality jobs in the agrifood sector.

Pat Doody, Chair of the Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “Food production is a cornerstone of the Greater Lincolnshire economy and indeed the UK. It has created more growth and high-value jobs in the last five years than any other sector so we are delighted this is recognised nationally, and we will work with the Department for International Trade to develop our pitch for additional investment opportunities to bring automation and robotics companies to Lincolnshire.

“Partners locally are working together to develop Greater Lincolnshire into the ‘UK Food Valley’ which will compete globally. In the last five years we have seen a real upturn in this sector, with at least £500 million being invested locally, including £90 million on research and development and innovation. Key schemes such as the development of the South Lincolnshire Food Enterprise Zone and the growth of the agri-robotics research hub have been influential in growing the cluster.

“However, I am really clear that there are significant opportunities for growth, particularly around food production and logistics in Boston, automation and robotics, AI, and nutrition. These are exciting times for Greater Lincolnshire food production.”

Karen Seal, Principal Officer for Place and Investment at Lincolnshire County Council, said: “The HPO will give us a fantastic opportunity to showcase our region on an international platform, promoting our assets, attracting new inward investments and creating highly skilled jobs.

“We need investors to know that Greater Lincolnshire is the UK and European leader for agri-robotics and automation, and to be based here opens up a wealth of opportunities for their business.”

Professor Simon Pearson, Professor of Agri-Food Technology at the Lincoln Institute for Agri-Food Technology, said: “We’re delighted to be engaged in this opportunity. Clearly agrifood technology is a significant strength of the University of Lincoln and we’re looking forward to collaborating with the Greater Lincolnshire LEP and the Department for International Trade to support inward investment into the area.

“It’s a wonderful way to exploit the research capacity at the university which now includes the largest group of agri-roboticists in the EU.”

Councillor Nick Worth, Lincolnshire County Councillor for Holbeach and Deputy Leader of South Holland District Council, welcomed the announcement, saying: “This is really positive news for the area, and the additional support, promotion and resource will be invaluable as the district and wider county continues to promote itself to investors as the home of the largest cluster of agri-food businesses anywhere in the country.

“With the Department for International Trade’s assistance we can begin to build new global connections and highlight some of the fantastic projects taking place in the area, such as the Food Enterprise Zone in Holbeach. Working with our partners I am excited to help put Lincolnshire on the map worldwide and encourage new investment, businesses and jobs into the county.”

The Minister for Investment Gerry Grimstone MP said: “The UK has so much to offer international investors across a variety of key sectors and regions. Our HPO programme looks at some of the sectors and sites across the UK where we see some of the world’s greatest challenges being solved.

“Inward investment will help the UK build back better while levelling up all parts of the UK. This is just the start of the steps we are taking to increase inward investment and drive economic recovery.”

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