Last year’s Innovation Champion Dr Fengge Gao, from Nottingham Trent University’s School of Science and Technology, with Fiona Anderson, MD of award sponsors The Food and Drink Forum

The search for the most exciting developments in the East Midlands food and drink sector has begun with the launch of the 2010 Food and Drink innovation Network (iNet) Innovation Awards.
The awards aim to recognise and reward the use of innovation in the food and drink sector in the region as a way of boosting development, profitability or growth.
Being held for the third year, the awards will turn the spotlight on outstanding inventions or products, exceptional creativity, and innovative working practices in the industry across the East Midlands.
Last year’s Food and Drink iNet Innovation Champion was Nottingham Trent University’s School of Science and Technology who took the title for the development of an exciting new material for food and drink packaging.
Experts at the university successfully solved the problem of leaching in bottles and have taken the technology a step further to add antimicrobial properties which kill or lessen micro-organisms.
Dr Fengge Gao, from Nottingham Trent University’s School of Science and Technology, said: “The benefits of winning the award have gone far beyond our original expectations. The recognition for our technology opened the door to the outside world and the publicity reached every continent. We are now in a much better position with regards to technology transfer, attracting external funding and collaborating with leading industry institutions across the globe.”
Now the hunt has begun for this year’s worthy winners across Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire and Rutland.
Food and Drink iNet director Andrew Butterwick said: “The Food and Drink iNet Innovation Awards have become an important date on the calendar for recognizing and celebrating the innovation that is going on in the East Midlands’ food and drink sector. In previous years we have seen some truly exciting developments in the industry and I am delighted to announce that the awards will be held again this year.”
The Food and Drink iNet Innovation Awards will have a number of categories open to firms, organisations and individuals working across the food and drink sector, with entries being invited now. The Innovation Awards will culminate in a glittering ceremony in November, where the winners will be crowned in front of their industry peers.
Forms are available to download from the Food and Drink iNet website
Mike Carr, emda’s Executive Director of Business Services, said: “The food and drink industry is very important to the East Midlands and the iNet is playing a significant role in supporting innovation in this sector. These awards recognise and celebrate exciting innovations that have serious market potential, stimulating East Midlands firms and research centres to explore and develop new ideas, technologies and products.”
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.
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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