Growing our appetite for food and drink innovation

MIH Launch Group Photo James Withers, Fergus Ewing, Caroline McLellan, Prof Peter Morgan

Collaboration in food & drink innovation rewarded with £650k fund

Scotland’s Food & Drink Partnership* recently launched Make Innovation Happen, a single gateway service to support businesses to innovate. 

As part of the service, the new £650,000 Collaborative Innovation Fund, which is co-funded by Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), will open for applications on July 1st.

The fund supports food and drink businesses working collaboratively on innovative projects to support the growth of the sector and was launched last week by Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing.

Make Innovation Happen (www.makeinnovationhappen.scot) was launched by the Scotland Food & Drink Innovation Working Group** in May as the first step towards Ambition 2030, which prioritises innovation as critical to continued success in the sector.

Collaboration has been the central ingredient in the successful growth of Scotland’s food and drink industry over the last ten years. Furthermore, experience of working with food and drink businesses highlights that multi-disciplinary project working between businesses, academics and other innovation providers stimulates fresh thinking and opens new opportunities.

This new Collaborative Innovation Fund recognises the importance of bringing together different specialists to unlock new thinking.

An example of successful collaboration is a recent project launched by the Scottish Shellfish Marketing Group and University of the Highlands and Islands with co-funding from HIE, the Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre and the European Maritime Fisheries Fund, who now have a trial mussel hatchery well underway in Shetland.

This collaborative project centres on the testing of the commercial feasibility of producing spat (baby mussels). If successful, the pilot hatchery project will lead to a commercial-scale hatchery, resulting in higher and more reliable yields of spat, additional jobs and wider distribution of sites – all of which combined will help towards the Scottish shellfish sector’s growth ambitions of 21,000 tonnes annually by 2030.

This fund is part of a wider programme of new innovation support to the food and drink industry from the enterprise agencies and Scottish Funding Council of £1.1million and enhances the broad range of innovation support already well used by businesses.

The fund runs over a three-year period and collaborations may form independently or be part of an existing group.

This scheme will facilitate transformational projects to deliver greater innovation and economic impact for the sector through collaboration. 

Jim Watson, Director of Innovation at Scottish Enterprise, said:

“Collaboration can make a company stronger and lead to increased innovation and growth.  When companies work together they can share their ideas and capabilities to reduce costs and risks of entering new markets and investing in new processes, while accelerating time to market and the ability to respond to market threats.

“That’s why we’re fully committed, alongside our partners, to the new Make Innovation Happen Collaboration Innovation Fund to help Scotland’s food and drink industry accelerate collaborative innovation to open up new markets and revenue streams.”

Co-chairs of the Scotland Food & Drink Innovation Working Group David Thomson, Food and Drink Federation Scotland CEO and Dr Alan Rowe of The Rowett Institute, said:

“The Scotland Food & Drink Partnership has shown exceptional collaboration to create a single gateway to access various types of innovation support.  We already have three experienced innovation connectors on the ground.  This new funding will encourage businesses to collaborate together to develop new growth opportunities. 

“This initiative further demonstrates that in the three months since the ‘Ambition 2030’ industry strategy was launched, we are moving forward with pace.  I would encourage businesses to look at the website and get in touch.”

Make Innovation Happen can be accessed by visiting www.makeinnovationhappen.scot, emailing enquiries@makeinnovationhappen.scot or calling 0300 013 3385.

Notes to Editors:

Make Innovation Happen has been developed to encourage businesses involved in the food and drink industry – from primary producers to food and drink production - to embark on an innovation journey. The Scotland Food & Drink Innovation Working Group** identified the wide range of excellent support already available and from this, built Make Innovation Happen, which ensures the excellent range of support currently available is retained, as well as offering solutions to gaps in support.

* The Scotland Food & Drink Partnership consists of AHDB, Dairy UK, Highlands & Islands Enterprise, Improve Ltd, Interface, LANTRA, NFU Scotland, Quality Meat Scotland, Rowett Institute, SAOS, Scotch Whisky Association, Scottish Bakers, Scottish Development International, Scottish Enterprise, Scottish Food and Drink Federation, Scottish Government, Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation, Seafish, Seafood Scotland, Skills Development Scotland, SRUC, Zero Waste Scotland.

** The Scotland Food & Drink Innovation Working Group consists of representatives from Highlands & Islands Enterprise, Interface, The Rowett Institute, Scotland Food & Drink, Scottish Enterprise, Scottish Food and Drink Federation, Scottish Funding Council, The Scottish Government.