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Industry and academia collaborate to develop food engineering vision

29 November 2013

More than 100 food and drink manufacturers, academics and engineering professionals converged upon Sheffield’s Cutlers’ Hall on 28 November to create an industry driven vision for the new Centre of Excellence for Food Engineering.

The National Centre of Excellence will be a world class facility built specifically to support industry growth through improvements in manufacturing capability. It will provide innovative engineering solutions through industry led collaborative projects including advances in solutions for energy and waste efficiencies along with a whole range of pre-competitive priorities to support the food and drink manufacturing industry in realising its growth potential. The Centre will become a leading education provider offering students and the existing engineering workforce exposure to state of the art facilities and the latest technology.

At the opening event, food and drink businesses were joined by an expert panel of speakers including Roger Eccleston, pro-vice-chancellor at Sheffield Hallam University and Fiona Kendrick, CEO and chairman of Nestle UK and Ireland. 

Melanie Leech, director general at Food and Drink Federation described the new center at Sheffield Hallam University as a ‘standout example of how manufacturers, Government and academics can collaborate to bridge the food industry’s research gap’. 

“The shared vision and priorities that we have developed today will make this world-class facility a focal point for research and innovation excellence for the UK’s largest manufacturing sector,” she said. “We have been delighted by the level of support we have received and by the commitment by food and drink manufacturers so far. This event has proven to be an excellent opportunity to help shape the future of the new Centre of Excellence and inspire the next generation of engineering talent.”

George Eustice MP, Minister for Food and Farming, added: “Congratulations on the launch of the National Centre of Excellence for Food Engineering. This is an excellent initiative which will keep the UK food and drink industry at the forefront of innovation. The new Centre will provide well trained and highly skilled staff to ensure the industry maintains and enhances its competitive position in global food manufacturing.” 

Justine Fosh, CEO of Improve/National Skills Academy, for Food and Drink, said: “We see the creation of a National Centre of Excellence for Food Engineering at Sheffield Hallam University as a breakthrough moment for the food manufacturing sector as a whole. It is a shining example of what can be achieved when the industry collaborates in support of a shared goal.
“The Centre of Excellence, along with the new dedicated food engineering degree, represents a solid bridge to an additional £1billion in Gross Value Added by food and drink businesses and a significant new conduit to attracting high level talent.”

Roger Eccleston, pro-vice chancellor for the faculty of arts, computing, engineering and science at Sheffield Hallam University, said the new centre will ‘play a key role in developing advanced engineering capability for the food and drink industry, providing a major competitive advantage to this important sector’. 

"The centre will support the industry to develop and implement new and enhanced facilities, processes and equipment, to keep the UK ahead in a very competitive sector. It will also enhance the development of a highly educated workforce through staff development and support. This project builds on the University's experience of excellent research and developing high quality partnerships with industry."

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