The search for the brightest ideas in the East Midlands food and drink sector has started with the launch of the 2012 Food and Drink iNet Innovation Awards.

Being held for the fifth year, the awards recognise and reward the use of innovation in the region’s food and drink sector as a way of boosting development, profitability and growth.

They will turn the spotlight on outstanding inventions or products, exceptional creativity, and innovative working practices in the industry across the East Midlands.

There are four categories this year – business growth, new product development, positive impact, and collaboration. Winners of all categories will be revealed at a glittering awards ceremony and gala dinner in November before one of the winners is crowned Campden BRI Innovation Champion 2012.

Last year’s category winners included Nottingham Bakery Butt Foods, which won the Most Innovative Food and Drink Business for introducing new practices which generated a 40% growth in sales, and Lincolnshire company Libaeration, which was named Most Innovative Business Supplying into the Food and Drink Sector for its development of the world’s first alcoholic foam used to enhance coffee, desserts and cocktails.

The Campden BRI Innovation Champion 2011 was a team from the University of Leicester Space Research Centre.

 Having scooped the award for Most Innovative Research Project, it went on to be crowned overall innovation champion for its application of space technology to detect fake whisky – without having to open the bottle.

News of the research and its potential for fighting the war against counterfeit whisky, wine and other liquids has since spread worldwide and could have wider applications, possibly transferring into areas such as airport security.

Now the hunt has begun for this year’s winners across Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire and Rutland.

Food and Drink iNet director Richard Worrall said: “Our annual innovation awards, which are free to enter, have previously showcased and celebrated some really exciting and progressive projects in the food and drink sector within businesses and the universities. They illustrate the vibrant nature of the industry in the region, at a time of tough economic conditions. I am sure this year’s entries will be just as interesting.

“The Food and Drink Innovation Awards have become an important date on the sector’s calendar and an excellent opportunity to recognise and reward work being carried out in the East Midlands.”

He urged all eligible firms and organisations to put themselves forward so that they were in contention for the kind of exposure gained by the University of Leicester team. Forms are available to download from the iNet section of the Food and Drink Forum website need to be submitted by August 17th 2012.

A range of sponsorship opportunities are also available, including award categories and table sponsorship, which will provide valuable promotion in front of food and drink professionals from across the East Midlands.

Part-funded by 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. 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 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.

For more information about the iNet visit

For further information about the Innovation Awards or sponsorship opportunities call 0115 9758810.

Issued by Nottingham PR company Perfect 10 PR