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Processing and packaging sectors urged to tap £15m innovation fund

By Rory Harrington , 15-Mar-2012

Projects aimed at boosting operational efficiency and sustainability in the food processing and packaging sectors are being urged to apply for a share of a £15m (€18m) fund by the UK Government.

The UK said it has launched the multi-million pound scheme in response to soaring raw material and energy costs, burgeoning regulation around greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and waste management issues – which it said pose  “significant economic and operational challenges” to the sector.

It hailed the fact that food and drink processing is the single largest manufacturing sector in the UK- with an annual turnover exceeding £76bn – but added that its complex supply chain meant it produced a large amount of GHG emissions and waste.

Reducing these would not only bring sustainability benefits but also commercial opportunities “to develop technologies and innovative systems that can improve the competitive position” of the processing and packaging sectors, said the UK’s Technology Strategy Board (TSB), which is coordinating the project.

Operational efficiencies targeted

The body said submissions should be collaborative and business-led projects lasting up to three years. They must deliver innovation and technological advances across the sector and create opportunities for global exports.

The focus would be on food processing, manufacturing, distribution, retail or food service rather than primary production.

A briefing event for potential applicants will take place on 19 June.

Criteria

All food and drink groups and sub-groups, including fresh, frozen, canned, dry and convenience are eligible to apply.

The agency said it hoped to attract applications across a raft of themes including (but not exclusively):

  • increasing efficiency in food processing, manufacturing and distribution through:
  • manufacturing process innovation
  • engineering solutions and process automation
  • reducing and recovering energy and water used in manufacturing processes
  • improving the efficiency and management of refrigerated supply chains
  • logistic and distribution efficiency
  • reducing supply chain waste through:
  • food spoilage control and improved product shelf-life
  • reducing supply chain scheduling inefficiencies
  •  packaging and storage innovation
  • maximising efficiency and value of resource (by/co-product) recovery and use
  •  waste auditing, process validation and added value services.

Successful projects will generally receive up to 50% funding- with grant sizes likely to range from £100,000 to £2.5m – although schemes larger than this can apply too.

Timetable

The two-stage competition opens on 11 June 2012, with the deadline for registration on 11 July at noon.

Expressions of interest must be registered by 18 July and the deadline for invited applications is 19 September.

Click HERE to find out more information about the competition.

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