The Scottish Universities Industry Innovation Network for Food and Drink is a partnership of 17 Scottish universities which will work to meet the research and innovation needs of Scottish food and drink companies. Working in partnership with businesses and their supporting trade sectors, academics from multiple disciplines will work to deliver a range of knowledge exchange projects in areas including food science, supply chain development, waste management, packaging design and marketing for the benefit of industry.
Led by the University of Aberdeen, the University of Abertay Dundee and Heriot-Watt University together with Interface - The knowledge connection agency for business, the Network is specifically designed to meet the needs of the Scottish food and drink industry expressed by its members during a consultation process.
SFC will invest £2.64 million over five years to a total funding package of £10.58 million of cash and in-kind investment. The 17 partner universities will contribute £3.1 million of in-kind support, with trade associations such as Scotland Food and Drink and participating companies also providing £4.84 million of cash and in-kind support.
Scotland's food and drink industry is a key sector of Scotland's economy, generating over £9.5 billion per year, and employing over 360,000 people. The Scottish Government identified the food and drink industry as one of six key industrial sectors drivers for future economic growth in its Economic Strategy.
Mark Batho, Chief Executive of the Scottish Funding Council, said: "The Funding Council is delighted to invest in this unique network, which will lead to great benefits for Scotland's food and drink industry and increased demand for the excellent research of Scotland's universities. This is the first time such a multi-disciplinary collaboration of researchers, from almost every Scottish university, have come together to focus on a key sector."
Making the announcement at the Scotland Food & Drink Excellence Awards, Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead said:
"Innovation is a fundamental part of any successful industry. The food and drink sector is worth billions of pounds to our economy and has a major contribution to play in securing Scotland's economic recovery.
"The Scottish Government wants to see the sector grow to £12.5 billion by 2017, and I am wholly committed to heralding Scotland's larder both at home and abroad through our Recipe for Success vision. This £2.64 million package will bring together the very best talent and research from academia and business, helping to strengthen and expand every aspect of this crucial industry.
"Linking up with our internationally renowned universities can only increase the sector's global competitiveness and provide a valued contribution to our aim of making Scotland a land of food and drink."
The 17 partner higher education institutions (HEIs) are:
- University of Aberdeen
- University of Abertay Dundee
- University of Dundee
- University of Edinburgh
- University of Glasgow
- Glasgow Caledonian University
- Heriot-Watt University
- University of the Highlands and Islands
- Edinburgh Napier University
- Robert Gordon University
- University of St Andrews
- University of Strathclyde
- University of Stirling
- Queen Margaret University
- University of the West of Scotland
- Glasgow School of Art
- Scottish Agricultural College