£228k investment in Highland food and drink innovation network

Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) has approved a £228,000 investment in an initiative to raise awareness of innovation and opportunities presented by new technologies in the Highland Council area.

The agency has commissioned consultancy firm Rural Matters to create a Highland food and drink innovation network. This will be industry-led and focused on improving productivity, the adoption of new technologies, and nurturing the businesses of the future.

It will explore themes such as scalable premium products, a sustainable supply chain and the circular economy, digitisation, robotics and automation.

It will also include extensive consultation with the industry and supply chain to develop HIE’s plans to create a new food and drink technology hub in Highland.

The new network, which will also be open to social and community enterprises, will run for two years, promoting collaboration within and beyond the sector.

It will form part of the HIE-led Northern Innovation Hub (NIH), a project that received £11m from the UK Government and £1.7m ERDF support as part of the Inverness and Highland City Region Deal.  The Deal is a joint £315 million initiative supported by both the UK and Scottish governments.

Claire Munro, HIE’s senior project manager for the NIH, said: “This project will encourage and support food and drink companies to embrace technology and innovation with a view to increasing productivity, reaching new markets and creating quality jobs.  In addition, it will reach out and engage with the food and drink producers of the future.”

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