The future of food production in the UK has taken a step forward this week, after the official opening of the South Lincolnshire Food Enterprise Zone (FEZ).

The event, which marks the completion of the first phase of the FEZ, took place at the recently opened site just outside Holbeach on Thursday 22nd September.

This first phase of the FEZ includes the University of Lincoln’s National Centre for Food Manufacturing (NCFM), Lincolnshire County Council’s Hub for Agricultural Businesses and The Institute of Technology Digital Food Manufacturing Centre.

The developments represent over £16m of investment to support Greater Lincolnshire’s agri-food sector and help position it as the UK Food Valley, a top 10 global centre for international food trade.

The development represents an effective partnership between the University of Lincoln, the Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership, Lincolnshire County Council and South Holland District Council.

The Hub

Councillor Colin Davie, Executive Councillor for Economy, Environment and Strategic Planning, Lincolnshire County Council said:

“Investing the time and money into creating the South Lincolnshire FEZ, which holds such importance nationally, shows how dedicated Lincolnshire County Council is to supporting the fastest growing sector in the county and the UK.

“Our Hub building reduces risk and uncertainty for new businesses looking to become established or grow. We want to go much further than simply letting this space though, and have created a dynamic business environment for our tenants and the wider business community. As the name The Hub implies, we want this space to be the focal point for a range of business to business events and support, offered by a team of extremely knowledgeable Growth Hub advisors.”

Councillor Nick Worth, Deputy Leader of South Holland District Council, said:

“The progress we are seeing with the Food Enterprise Zone is fantastic news for both south-east Lincolnshire and Holbeach. The agricultural and food sectors are of critical importance to the UK as a whole, so to have one of the most important food industry sites really taking off in South Holland presents such opportunity for our local businesses and residents. The site is also a vital part of our wider plans to develop and regenerate Holbeach. I very much look forward to seeing the success of the FEZ continuing to build and grow over the coming years.”

Pat Doody, Chair of the Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership, said:

“The opening of the South Lincolnshire FEZ is a perfect example of how determined partners sharing a common vision – in this case the ambitious goal of creating the UK Food Valley, a top 10 global food cluster – can achieve so much, so quickly. We are very proud to have contributed £16 million from the LEP to help make this development happen.’’

Professor Neal Juster, Vice Chancellor of the University of Lincoln, said:

“The university is delighted to have worked with our partners to support this major investment in the agri-food sector which will enable Professor Val Braybrooks and her team to build on the outstanding success of the National Centre for Food Manufacturing as a major research and skills hub, helping the sector address its challenges and take advantage of growth opportunities.

“I would also like to thank the many representatives from industry who have supported the NCFM, including our supporters Karen Betts, Chief Executive, Food and Drink Federation, Donna-Marie Lee, Chief People Officer at Bakkavor, and Harry Norman, CEO of OAL.”

Jayne Almond, Director of Policy and Corporate Affairs at the Food and Drink Federation, said:

“It was an honour to open the first phase of the Food Enterprise Zone here in Holbeach, south Lincolnshire. I’m excited to see how local and national food and drink companies use the expertise in cutting edge, pioneering technology and innovation on offer to grow their business and increase their productivity.

“The local area will also hugely benefit from the skills and business support the zone has to offer and I’m looking forward to returning to the Food Enterprise Zone in the coming months to see the growth of the project.”

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