The Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA) and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) have approved £8.1 million to support the growth of one of the regions priority sectors.
The funding (£4 million from private sector partners and the NWDA, matched with £4 million ERDF) has been approved to stimulate and develop the higher-added-value sub-sectors of the region’s food and drink economy, while ensuring a safe and sustainable environment in which to grow.
The funding was officially announced at the Food Northwest Awards 2010 (Thursday 24th June) where the outstanding achievements of the region’s food and drink sector is recognised.
The programme will be managed by Food Northwest, the Northwest’s food and drink cluster organisation and is targeted at key sub-sectors. It is estimated that, over the life of the project the programme will create/safeguard 940 jobs, create at least 50 businesses, and provide support and management skills to over 3,000 businesses. The programme will be delivered through four main themes and will include a variety of projects that will provide:
1) Specialist technical support to food and drink SMEs in the Northwest – fund assistance to SMEs to assimilate and use shoppers purchasing data, and fund specific technical advice for approx 250 SMEs and a further 750 in areas such as market data, product development, labelling and packaging.
2) Regional and speciality food and drink – support for the central regional co-ordination of regional speciality food and drink by Food Northwest and sub regional delivery for the food and drink sub sector. This incorporates the creation and maintenance of a regional source of market intelligence, coordinating a timetable of consumer and trade shows, local food communications campaign and work on routes to market.
3) Health and safety/food hygiene/business continuity planning – providing SMEs with the tools to risk assess critical aspects of their businesses above and beyond the legal requirements, and develop action plans.
4) Organic/ethnic – provide support so that the region’s producers can take advantage of the organic/ethnic high growth sectors. Continuation of funding for the supply of information from the Northwest Organic Centre to enable support of up to 60 businesses and individuals with specific organic technical support. To map the scope of the NW Ethnic Food sub sector, leading to the creation of up to 100 private enterprises within mainstream and ethnic food sub sectors and creating ten new ethnic supply chains.
Steven Broomhead, Chief Executive of the NWDA, said: “The Northwest is not only the country’s largest food and drink-producing region, it is also home to the UK’s highest concentration of food and drink manufacturing businesses. This programme will help the regions food and drink sector to continue to grow and make the most out of high-growth markets.”
The ERDF Programme is backed by the Programme Monitoring Committee (PMC) – a group of senior representatives from across the region. The Group was formed to monitor, oversee and advise on the delivery of the Programme and proved invaluable to the development of the new fund.
David Malpass, Director of the European Programme at the NWDA, said: “The ERDF funding will help the Food and Drink sector in the Northwest to grow, improving the performance of over 750 businesses and creating or safeguarding nearly a 1,000 jobs.”
The funding and the programme will be managed by Food Northwest, the strategic body representing the Northwest Food & Drink Industry. Through support from the NWDA Food Northwest is tasked with boosting the growth of this dynamic industry, and aims to help businesses in the sector maximise their economic potential and increase productivity and output, through training workshops, networking meetings, meet the buyer events and exhibiting at trade shows.
Pat Foreman, Chief Executive of Food Northwest, said: “The funding will catalyse growth and opportunity for many small and medium enterprises in the Northwest. It draws on the strengths of our universities & colleges targeting innovation, and helps establish competitive advantage for the food and drink industry”
Source: Northwest Regional Development Agency