Scottish government launches £650k innovation fund

Scottish food and drink to benefit from a £650k fund to support innovation. Fergus Ewing (left)

Scotland’s food and drink industry is to receive a £650,000 investment from the Scottish government to support innovation, thanks to new funding to support business growth.

The Collaboration Innovation Fund (CIF) is part of a package to help businesses looking to innovate, supported by Highlands and Islands Enterprise, following the recent launch of the Make Innovation Happen service.

Food and drink firms from across the supply chain in Scotland can gain access to technical knowledge and expertise, specialist facilities and advice on funding as part of the scheme.

Businesses will also be able to tap into resources available in Scotland from the public sector and academia.

Speaking at the Royal Highland Show last week (June 24), Scotland’s rural economy secretary Fergus Ewing said: “Innovation will be key to delivering the industry’s strategic ambitions to double the turnover of the industry by 2030. This fund will help bring business and academia together to help deliver greater growth.”

‘Double the turnover of the industry’

The new service would set a standard for all delivery partners supporting innovation in the food and drink industry.

Scotland Food & Drink chief executive James Withers said the new CIF reflected the importance of collaboration in unlocking innovation, which was critical to the industry’s future growth.

“The pace of change in terms of food and drink production, supply chains and consumer behaviour is remarkable,” he said.

“We will need to embrace a culture of cutting-edge innovation and collaboration to meet the ambitions of our new industry strategy. This fund is an important new step to help drive that culture.”

In March, the Scotland Food & Drink Partnership launched Ambition 2030, the industry’s new strategy to double the sector’s turnover to £30bn by 2030.

Innovation critical to continued success

Making Innovation Happen is the first step towards Ambition 2030, which prioritises innovation as critical to continued success in the sector.

The Scottish government also announced the launch of a new industry group to accelerate the growth of Scotland’s fruit and vegetable industry.

The Fruit and Veg Industry Leadership Group will develop an action plan to capitalise on market opportunities, including the impact of Brexit, as part of Ambition 2030.

Ewing said: “This new group – which for the first time brings together all key representatives across the sector – will identify the specific actions needed to overcome any barriers to growth, develop new market opportunities and address issues facing the sector – not least the implications of Brexit and access to labour.”

Meanwhile, innovation and investment in new technology are needed to support the growth of food manufacturing, as UK businesses face strong international competition after Brexit, claimed business consultancy RSM.

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