FDF to connect businesses to the technology of tomorrow with Food and Drink Innovation Gateway
The Food and Drink Federation (FDF) is launching a new online platform at Defra’s National Food and Drink Summit in London today, to help manufacturers access the support needed to adopt innovation and increase their efficiency and productivity.
The Food and Drink Innovation Gateway is designed as a one-stop online tool, developed by the FDF, which connects businesses in the sector – particularly small and medium sized – with a wide range of independent advice and expertise, from commercial authorities through to universities and government-backed programmes.
This partnership will support companies to develop and grow their businesses through the adoption of existing and new technologies, including automation, AI and digital, as well as improving their energy efficiency, reduce waste and help to tackle labour shortages.
The FDF’s chief executive Karen Betts said that with the UK’s food and drink businesses being the lifeblood of our homes and our communities, these companies struggle to find the bandwidth and the right support to invest in the right technologies and innovation to help them grow to their full potential.
“The FDF’s Innovation Gateway is designed to provide a much-needed ‘single point of entry’ for companies in our sector which are looking to invest in innovation, automation, new technologies and environmental sustainability,” Betts said. “It will help to match businesses with the right support, which already exists in a range of different organisations across the UK but which can be difficult to identify and access.
“I’m proud of the very practical support that FDF’s Gateway will offer to our dynamic sector, helping food and drink businesses to grow and thrive, and to remain at the heart of advanced manufacturing and a green economy.”
Food and Farming Minister Mark Spencer MP said: “The food and drink industry is a cornerstone of our economy and the largest manufacturing sector in the UK. SMEs are at the heart of this, making up 98% of food and drink manufacturers and employing 146,000 people across the country.
“They are global leaders in innovation and I am delighted the FDF’s new Food and Drink Innovation Gateway will be open to them, making it easier for them to adopt new technology.”
Following a successful pilot with FDF member companies, the scheme is now open to all food and drink manufacturers across Britain.
Experts in the world of research and higher education, such as the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre and the University of Lincoln, will offer a free consultation and production line walk to identify areas of improvement and potential solutions, while helping businesses to de-risk investments and implement the technology.
The National Food and Drink Summit 2023 is an opportunity for SMEs from across England to come together, network and share best practice to support their growth and resilience. It will include a choice of workshops covering finance and resilience, skills, innovation and routes to market, to help inspire SMEs on the next steps for their business’s growth.