Plans launched for build of centre of excellence for food and drink in Aberdeen

PLANS have been submitted for the build of a development hub for food and drink businesses in the north east of Scotland.

If given the go ahead, the £21 million Seedpod industry development hub will be located just outside of Aberdeen and will play a ‘crucial’ part in a wider project to double the size of north east Scotland’s £2.2 billion food and drink sector.

Project leads, Opportunity North East (ONE), said that the investment will put the region’s manufacturing and processing businesses at the  forefront of innovation, productivity and sustainability – with it promised to increase high-value exports and create new jobs, while also contributing to the green recovery.

ONE added that the initiative aims to increase the food and drink sector turnover by 5% per annum. The economic consultant firm continued by saying it will help established companies accelerate growth through innovation and technology adoption, market and product development, global consumer focus and provide start-up production space and development facilities for high-growth new businesses.

The facility will be located on Scotland Rural College’s (SRUC) Craibstone Campus. A procurement process is underway to appoint a main contractor, with the build planned to commence later this year.

The UK Government and Scottish Government have backed the project with a combined £10 million investment, with ONE having also committed £4.4 million towards the delivery of SeedPod’s objectives.

Patrick Machray OBE, vice chair of ONE, said, “SeedPod is the critical ingredient that will help north east Scotland’s significant food and drink sector to innovate, accelerate growth, increase productivity and target foods of the future products at high-margin markets. It will provide young businesses with essential space to grow in its production incubator units, support established companies with productivity and market development, and is a strategic asset at a critical time for national sector recovery and growth.

“This is a transformational project for realising the sector’s green growth ambition. SeedPod will increase the value of exports and the jobs that food and drink manufacturers and processors provide in rural and urban communities.

“Speed of delivery and impact are the focus for the Food Hub (NES) board and our partners. SeedPod will be the place to grow together and engage with our most exciting companies of the future and ambitious established businesses,” said Mr Machray.

Councillor Jenny Laing, co-leader of Aberdeen City Council, added, “SeedPod will deliver on the north east’s ambition to grow the size and value of the food and drink sector. The new facility will make a real difference to all areas of the industry to inspire established businesses to innovate and grow and to nurture the next generation of start-ups in the region.”