Categories for this year’s Food and Drink iNet Innovation Awards have been unveiled, with entries now being invited by organisers.

Designed to recognise and reward the most exciting developments in the East Midlands food and drink sector, the 2010 Food and Drink innovation Network (iNet) Innovation Awards have five categories, plus the chance for winners to go on to become crowned the regional Food and Drink Innovation Champion 2010.

Entries are being invited for the following awards:

• University of Lincoln National Centre for Food Manufacturing Award for Most Innovative Small to Medium Size Food and Drink Manufacturer, which will recognise small to medium food and drink manufacturers within the East Midlands that have championed innovation projects to improve their business.

• Campden BRI Award for Most Innovative Business Across the Food and Drink Supply Chain, which will recognise businesses working in the food and drink supply chain in the East Midlands that have undertaken an innovation project that has benefited the food and drink manufacturing sector.

• CenFRA Award for Most Innovative Research Project, which will reward the most successful research projects undertaken by universities within the East Midlands that have made a significant beneficial impact on the food and drink sector.

• Food Processing Faraday Award for Most Innovative Large Food and Drink Manufacturer, which will go to a large food and drink manufacturer in the East Midlands that has championed innovation projects to improve their business.

• Nottingham Trent University Award for Most Innovative Business in the Wider Food Sector, which will recognise innovation in a food or drink firm that is not a manufacturer. This could include primary producers, restaurants, caterers, delis and local food retailers.

The winner of the Food and Drink Forum Innovation Champion Award 2010 will be picked from the winners of the five categories.

The awards, which are being held for the third year, will turn the spotlight on outstanding inventions or products, exceptional creativity, and innovative working practices in the industry in Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire and Rutland. Winners will be announced at a glittering ceremony and gala dinner sponsored by Derby College in November.

Food and Drink iNet director Andrew Butterwick said: “Last year’s entries for The Food and Drink iNet Innovation Awards were impressive and we are looking forward to receiving this year’s nominations which I am sure will reflect the exciting innovation going on in the food industry and associated areas within the region.”

Application forms are available to download from the Food and Drink iNet website now with the closing date for entries October 15th 2010.

Mike Carr, East Midlands Development Agency’s (emda’s) Executive Director of Business Services, said: “I hope that many of the food and drink companies from across the East Midlands enter these awards. It is not only an opportunity for them to be recognised for their achievements, but it is also a chance for them to showcase their innovations in a way that may help them gain an all important competitive edge in their markets.”

Funded by 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 regional iNets, it has developed an effective network to link academic and private sector expertise and knowledge with local food and drink business innovation needs.

The Food and Drink iNet also 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. It 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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