Firms, researchers and individuals in the East Midlands have just a few days left to enter this year’s Food and Drink iNet (Innovation Network) Innovation Awards.

Entries for the awards, which celebrate new products, new ways of working and new developments in the region’s food and drink sector, close on September 30th 2011.

Winners will be announced at an awards dinner at Nottingham Conference Centre, Burton Street, Nottingham, on November 17th where food critic Jay Rayner will be the guest speaker.

“The Innovation Awards are being held for the fourth year and have become a popular event on the calendar of the food and drink sector in the East Midlands,” said Food and Drink iNet director Richard Worrall.

“We’ve had some really interesting entries in past years, and I’m looking forward to seeing details of the latest developments and innovations when we start the judging process. I would urge any firm, research team or individual who has been involved in some kind of innovation in the industry in the region to consider entering the awards – it’s free to do so and it could lead to some great exposure.”

Entries are being invited from across Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Lincolnshire, Leicestershire, Northamptonshire and Rutland.

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.

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.

Entries need to be submitted by September 30th. Forms are available to download from the iNet section of the Food and Drink Forum website

Tickets to the awards ceremony cost £65 plus vat each or £650 plus vat for a table of ten, and are available by calling 0115 9758810.

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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