The £1.6m investment from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) Programme is to stimulate economic growth in agri-food sector Small to Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) in two Yorkshire LEP areas. The project will enable businesses to engage with applied science research, innovation expertise and facilities based around Fera Science Ltd, the National Agri-Food Innovation Campus and Science City York, part of Make It York.
It is envisaged tht by accessing Fera's scientific expertise will help local SMEs realise their potential and help them solve problems resulting in new innovative products and increased revenues and employment.
By 2019, the project, led by Fera Science Ltd in partnership with Science City York is expected to boost productivity of the region’s agri-food sector through an SME business support programme delivering knowledge exchange, innovation capacity building and research funding.
- Accelerate science based innovation within agri-food businesses through Fera’s in-house expertise and global networks
- Increase SME investment in agri-food research, innovation and commercialisation activities across two LEP areas (Leeds City Region and York, North Yorkshire and East Riding).
- Ensure the development of a regional cluster of Research and Innovation (R&I) expertise relevant to local businesses and engage SMEs in the supply chain
- Provide Innovation Vouchers to qualifying companies as financial support to innovation projects
- Raise awareness of the nationally significant facilities at the National Agri-Food Innovation Campus
- Facilitate business-business networking and collaboration, both regionally and through development of multi-lateral arrangements with global partners
Firms that consistently invest in R&I have higher productivity (13 per cent higher than those with no R&D spending and 9 per cent more than firms who occasionally invest in R&I), better value added per employee, and more exports (BIS Innovation Report, 2014).
Mike Wray, Director of Operations at Fera Science said:
"Yorkshire boasts many great agri-food businesses and is home to world class applied science, working across the food chain, but research and innovation spend in the region is below the national average. Through this project we look forward to helping SMEs develop their businesses through stimulating innovations, from farm to fork".
Heather Niven, Head of Science City York said:
"This is a great opportunity for our Yorkshire businesses to find new ways of developing products and services, to improve the way they do business and to collaborate with others in the region. This fund will enable businesses to understand their innovation strengths and weaknesses and do something practical to improve and grow" she commented.
The ERDF investment in this project follows the government’s £50m commitment a new Centre for Innovation Excellence in Livestock (CIEL) and a Centre for Crop Health and Protection (CHAP) which are based at the same site further strengthening Yorkshires position as a leading regional Agri-Food base.