Major funding to boost innovation and fuel growth in Lincolnshire’s food industry

Fledging entrepreneurial food companies will receive specialist business support from the University of Lincoln thanks to new government funding announced today (Friday 20th September 2019).

Research England, part of UK Research and Innovation, has allocated £20 million for the creation of 20 University Enterprise Zones (UEZs) – new initiatives designed to stimulate the development of small businesses, to encourage them to interact with universities, and to innovate.

With the aim of stimulating growth in local economies, UEZs provide vital support for innovative new companies and create jobs in emerging industries. They help small businesses and start-ups to succeed by providing access to space for them to grow, as well as specialist facilities and expertise.

The University of Lincoln’s new UEZ, based in Holbeach, has received £1 million to provide a specialist package of business incubation services for start-up food companies. They will benefit from scientific and technical support provided by experts at the University of Lincoln’s National Centre for Food Manufacturing (NCFM), and have valuable access to small capital grants, networking opportunities and innovation facilities.

The project will promote the newly developed Food Enterprise Zone (FEZ) in Holbeach in South Lincolnshire and support businesses in their efforts to grow and relocate to its specialist business incubation spaces.

Professor Val Braybrooks, Dean of Holbeach for the University of Lincoln, said: “Greater Lincolnshire is the UK’s major food production county and this project will play a significant role in strengthening its agri-food economy while maximising government and local investment in the FEZ. We look forward to welcoming new food businesses to our network and working with them to innovate and prosper.”

David Sweeney, Executive Chair of Research England, said: “The University Enterprise Zones will act as focal points for collaboration in business-friendly environments, driving innovation and delivering benefits that will be felt across economies as local, regional and national scale.

“They demonstrate that universities are at the cutting edge of technology incubation and are committed to delivering on the government’s place agenda.”

Funding for the UEZs has been announced alongside an investment of £78m in the second wave of UK Research and Innovation’s Future Leaders Fellowships.

Universities Minister Chris Skidmore said: “Small businesses are the lifeblood of our economy, and Lincoln has a thriving ecosystem of local businesses and entrepreneurs whose creativity and determination help underpin the UK’s position as a leading innovator.

“Alongside this, many of Lincoln’s research community are right on the precipice of turning ground-breaking ideas into real products and services which could change the lives not just of people in the local community, but people around the world.

“Today’s funding will not only help local scientists take their ideas from lab to market – but will also support an enterprise hub at the University of Lincoln. Providing space for local businesses to forge crucial partnerships, the UEZs will create jobs, drive local growth and provide SMEs with a vital steppingstone to succeed.”