A new Scottish centre for food development and innovation has officially opened at Queen Margaret University's Edinburgh campus.

The centre aims to help Scottish food and drinks businesses with product development and analysis, ingredient development; improvements in product processing and preservation; nutritional analysis; shelf life testing; and with consumer focus groups and taste panels.

Scottish Centre for Food Development & Innovation held its official launch event at Queen Margaret University (QMU) on Tuesday, where Dr Siobhan Jordan, Director of Interface, outlined the benefits of business-academic collaborations.

Commenting on the centre's launch, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Food and the Environment, Richard Lochhead, said: “Scotland’s food and drink sectors are internationally recognised for their quality, many of the most famous products having a long history and unique sense of identity.

“The work of the centre is helping those companies evolve to meet new demand, develop new products and diversify into new markets, particularly lucrative export opportunities.

“Despite having a long history of collaboration with the food and drink industry, in the past three years alone, QMU’s innovation based engagements with SMEs in the sector have generated an estimated extra £5.7 million for the businesses it has worked with.”

QMU has already established academic expertise in the translation and application of science to support commercially successful research and development within the industry.

It has provided research support to a number of Scottish companies, including iQ Chocolate in Stirling, Gusto artisan dressings, marinades and oil and vinegars in Edinburgh; Black & Gold rapeseed oil in East Lothian and leaf tea experts, eteaket, based in Edinburgh, many of which were introduced to the University by Interface.

Academic lead for food and drink at QMU, Dr Jane McKenzie, said: “We’re really excited to have reached this significant milestone in the development of QMU’s Scottish Centre for Food Development & Innovation.

“Facilities like this are currently unavailable elsewhere in Scotland, so research work is often sent to England or Northern Ireland instead.

“The new facilities combined with QMU’s academic knowledge and expertise in food, nutrition and biological sciences is already offering companies in Scotland’s food and drink industry an unrivalled opportunity to innovate and develop new products which are underpinned by QMU’s scientific research.”

Watch their new film showcasing the Centre for Food Development & Innovation.