Food critic Jay Rayner has been unveiled as the speaker for this year’s Food and Drink iNet (Innovation Network) Innovation Awards.

The journalist, broadcaster and TV presenter, who is perhaps best known for his Observer food column, will be the guest speaker at the event in November.

Being held for the fourth year, the Innovation Awards aim to reward some of the most exciting innovations in the East Midlands food and drink industry.

Previous winners have included the development of a new material for food and drink packaging that featured non-leaching and antimicrobial properties, the invention of modified salt crystals to create a more intense flavour from less salt and thus allow a reduction in salt used in manufacturing, and the development of a sweet-tasting broccoli.

Now the hunt has just begun across Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire and Rutland for entries to the 2011 awards.

The Food and Drink iNet Innovation Awards have three categories open to firms, organisations and individuals working across the food and drink sector. They are – Most Innovative Food and Drink Business, Most Innovative Business Supplying into the Food and Drink Sector and Most Innovative Research Project.

The Campden BRI Innovation Champion 2011 will be chosen from the winner of the three categories.

“We are delighted to have secured Jay Rayner as our guest speaker at the 2011 Food and Drink iNet Innovation Awards, “ said Food and Drink iNet director Richard Worrall. “Jay regularly pops up on Masterchef, is on the daytime cookery show Eating with the Enemy and sits on the panel of judges for American show Top Chef Masters.

“I am sure he will be a very interesting and insightful after dinner speaker at our event.”

It has also been announced that this year’s awards ceremony will take place on November 17th at Nottingham Conference Centre, Burton Street, Nottingham.

Last year’s ceremony attracted guests from across the sector – representing manufacturers, distributors, retailers and those involved in teaching, research and development in the food and drink industry.
Forms to enter the Innovation Awards are available to download from the iNet section of the Food and Drink Forum website

“We have had some exciting innovations and inventions put forward for the awards in previous years, and are looking forward to hearing details about the latest developments,” added Richard Worrall.

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 has developed 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 and 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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