East Lothian set for £40m food and drink innovation hub

THE business case for the development of a food and drink innovation hub in East Lothian has been given the green light by officials.

The £40 million development will be located next to the Queen Margaret University campus on the boundaries of both Edinburgh and Midlothian at the Edinburgh Innovation Park, with it being ‘closely aligned’ with the university’s strengths.

The flagship hub will focus on food and drink related innovation within the context of health and wellbeing, and will include serviced laboratories and office accommodation as well as facilities for events.

It will also accommodate the facilities of the Scottish Centre for Food Development and Innovation, and will offer access to equipment, knowledge and skills to support product development and product launches.

Queen Margaret University said that construction is expected to begin in early 2023 and completed by 2025, with work to select a design team set to commence immediately. It is being supported by £28.6 million in UK Government funding, £1.4 million from the Scottish Government and £10 million from East Lothian Council.

Sir Paul Grice, principal of Queen Margaret University, said, “This is great news for East Lothian, and for Scotland’s food and drink sector, especially as it relates to society’s health and wellbeing. The committee’s approval to release £40 million city deal funding will aid economic recovery from the impacts of the pandemic by bringing quality jobs and investment to the area, and by supporting an important sector through research, knowledge exchange and skills training. Together with our joint venture partners East Lothian Council, we can now move forward to realise our vision of a strategic, sustainable development that will promote inclusive growth.”

James Withers, chief executive of Scotland Food and Drink, added,“Despite the challenges the industry has faced over the last year, Scotland’s food and drink sector has huge opportunities ahead of it, both in markets locally and globally. Pivotal to grasping these opportunities is innovation and increasing the collaborative working between Scotland‘s universities, research base and our food and drink producers. This investment is exactly the kind of catalyst to make that happen.”