Food and drink firms in South Lincolnshire are being invited to climb aboard a business support bus when it rolls into town – and discover new routes to success.

The Food and Drink iNet outreach bus will be at Springfields Outlet Shopping Centre, Spalding, on July 20th between 10am and 4pm.

On board will be business advisors from the Food and Drink iNet and the Sustainable Construction iNet, who will be able to offer free innovation advice and guidance.

As well as signposting firms to the help and support that’s available for businesses in the area from the iNets, they will also be highlighting opportunities such as CompeteFor, which is a free service that enables businesses to compete for contract opportunities linked to the London 2012 Games and other major public and private sector buying organisations. Other programmes that will come under the spotlight are Angle Plc, the Wash Fen Programme and Select Lincolnshire.

“The outreach bus is a really handy way for us to get out onto the road to spread the message about the iNets and the free innovation support that the iNet business advisors can offer,” said Rachel Linstead, Lincolnshire Business Advisor for the Food and Drink iNet. “We will also be promoting additional business support that’s available in the area, and showing firms how easy it is to register for CompeteFor, which could be the first step towards them getting involved in supplying food and drink for the 2012 Olympics.

“That could prove to be a massive opportunity for food and drink firms in Lincolnshire.”

The roadshow event coincides with the South Holland Food Festival, which runs from 19th July to 15th August 2010.

Businesses working in the food and drink sector, the construction sector and in other areas are encouraged to drop in to the outreach bus during the visit to Lincolnshire on July 20th.

Funded by East Midlands Development Agency (emda) and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the Food and Drink iNet co-ordinates innovation support for businesses, universities and individuals working in the food and drink sector in the East Midlands. One of four iNets, it strives to develop an effective network to encourage the collaboration of academic expertise and knowledge, and local food and drink business innovation needs.

It aims to build on the tradition of innovation in the food and drink industry in the region by helping to create opportunities to develop knowledge and skills, and to help research, develop and implement new products, markets, services and processes.

During the initial two-year phase of the Food and Drink iNet, more than 300 businesses in the region were supported, grants were given to 57 firms, and funding was provided for nine university collaboration projects. It also ran a successful series of events that attracted more than 650 delegates from 150 businesses to look at some of the key industry issues, as well as staging three best practice factory visits.

Now the second phase of the Food and Drink iNet has begun and there are plans to build on the work that’s already been achieved in supporting food and drink manufacturers in the East Midlands.

The Food and Drink iNet is managed by a consortium, led by the Food & Drink Forum and including Food Processing Faraday, Nottingham Trent University, the University of Lincoln, and the University of Nottingham. It is based at Southglade Food Park, Nottingham, with advisors covering the East Midlands region.

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