Scientists and business experts working together at the Food Innovation Centre at the University of Nottingham have now helped over 100 food and drink businesses to tackle some of their innovation challenges or create inventive new products.

Support for the SMEs has ranged from advice on how to develop new products, scale up, use new ingredients, improve nutritional profiles and make processes more efficient. It has helped firms to bring to life pioneering new products to take advantage of some of the latest consumer trends and demands.

The Food Innovation Centre, based at the University of Nottingham’s Sutton Bonington Campus as part of the Division of Food Sciences, is a unique, funded academic/commercial collaboration that provides free specialist innovation support to small and medium-sized food and drink companies in Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire.

Providing top academic expertise and state-of-the-art equipment, the project offers access to scientists, technicians, and facilities at the university – enabling food and drink manufacturers, ranging from brewers to bakers to chocolate makers, to seek free advice on how to overcome challenges and develop new ideas.

Head of the project, Richard Worrall, said: “We are pleased to have so far helped over 100 food and drink SMEs in Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire with innovative solutions to support their development – whether it’s been through our own project team of scientists, or by accessing academic knowledge, the University’s facilities or by linking businesses to students within student projects. We also link to other economic development initiatives in the area.”

“The firms have ranged from small start-ups to well-established medium-sized businesses. The Food Innovation Centre is fast becoming the place for food and drink firms in Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire to go to, if they are seeking skilled expertise for their innovation challenges. We are giving SMEs access to the University’s superb facilities and knowledge, previously only available to larger businesses. We are now looking forward to hearing from additional eligible firms over the coming months so that we can also help them tackle the issues they have. It is the perfect way for Universities to engage with SME businesses as the figures show!”

A number of the firms who have received support have gone on to partner final year undergraduate and masters students at the University of Nottingham to develop the work further – providing both valuable ‘real-life’ experience for the students and giving the businesses the benefits of the latest knowledge, thinking and facilities.

These include:

  • Butchers JT Beedham & Sons, in Sherwood, Nottingham, who were supported in the development of a healthier sausage, made from premium ingredients, and with the correct flavour and texture. Butcher Johnny Pusztai said: “The business will be able to promote itself as a more healthy meat producer based upon the latest University research and student input.”
  • Dancing Duck Brewery, in Derby, who were supported with innovative ways of demonstrating the flavour differences within the company’s range of beers through the use of sensory profiling techniques. This concluded that new star diagrams (ranking descriptive analysis) would allow the beer range to be profiled and described in a more consumer-friendly format. Rachel Matthews, from Dancing Duck Holdings, said: “The business will be able to offer a new way of describing its beer product on the label to its consumers, based upon a formal Sensory Science process, to give it marketing advantage.”

The Food Innovation Centre is a three-year project funded by the European Union through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

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Press release issued by Nottingham based PR company Perfect 10 PR