The Leicester food and drink sector is being given a boost with the launch of a new scheme to provide free business support to manufacturers working in the industry.

Trade organisation The Food and Drink Forum is running the Leicester Food Specialist service, which aims to help eligible firms to grow and develop.

The £94,500 project is being funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), which is providing more than 60% of the cost of the scheme, The Food and Drink Forum, and Leicester City Council through the Working Neighbourhood Fund.

The service is offering two free days of support to start-ups, micro businesses and small and medium-sized manufacturing enterprises in the food and drink sector in the city centre area.

This could cover a range of support from technical advice and packaging services to help with new routes to market or accreditation. The two days of support is for a maximum of 25 companies.

A programme of events for all eligible businesses is also planned, which will focus on offering support to overcome key issues and challenges faced by food manufacturers.

A launch event is being held on Thursday February 28th at the Flamingo Restaurant, Loughborough Road, Leicester, for firms interested in finding out more about the project, which runs until December 2014.

“Leicester’s food and drink sector plays a key role in the local economy and this new service, which is funded by the ERDF, will help to ensure that the industry continues to develop and grow,” said Fiona Anderson, managing director of the Food and Drink Forum, which was established in 1998 and provides support to the sector across the East Midlands and beyond.

“It is hoped that the Leicester Food Specialist service will increase the rate of sustainable manufacturing businesses that are launched in the sector and help those that are already established to expand.”

It aims to support the economy of Leicester by nurturing new start-ups in the sector and helping existing businesses to secure new sales, develop new products, reduce their carbon footprint and overcome barriers to growth.

To register interest in attending the launch event and to find out more about eligibility, email or call 01159 758810.

Press release issued by Louise Duffield, Perfect 10 PR