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Scottish food producers can benefit from new manufacturing network

Employee wearing mask and holding digital tablet during 
 a food factory quality control inspection.
Employee wearing mask and holding digital tablet during a food factory quality control inspection.

A “capability” network has been launched to help unlock innovation in food and other manufacturing sectors, as well as drive economic growth across Scotland.

Led by the National Manufacturing Institute Scotland (NMIS), the initiative brings together leading Scottish research and innovation, education, and training providers.

These include Aberdeen-based SeedPod, the in-the-making “hub” for food and drink industry growth north-east, which is a lead partner.

The network partners have a fundamental part to play in developing tomorrow’s manufacturing workforce, improving productivity, and helping companies and people in our community prosper.”

JohnReid, chief executive, NMIS

Other partners include the Construction Scotland Innovation Centre (CSIC) and Censis, Scotland’s centre of excellence for sensor and imaging systems and Internet of Things technologies.

The aim is to offer an easy means for manufacturing companies working with individual partner organisations, to tap into the vast expertise across the whole network.

Providing an open channel to share knowledge, capability and ideas, the network is, according to NMIS, accessible to “all organisations across the country that can contribute to creating a sustainable and vibrant future for the Scottish manufacturing and engineering community”.

Timely move to help manufacturers

The launch comes at a critical time as manufacturers across Scotland are recovering from the impact of Covid-19.

NMIS chief executive John Reid said: “The NMIS Capability Network makes it easier for companies in the Aberdeenshire manufacturing and engineering community to tap into and benefit from world-class expertise and capability.

“This is a crucial moment in time as manufacturers seek to navigate complex situations such as the climate emergency and post-pandemic recovery.

“Now is a time to refocus, embrace innovation and seize the opportunities that so often emerge from challenges.”

Mr Reid added: “Sitting at the cutting edge of manufacturing innovation, the network partners have a fundamental part to play in developing tomorrow’s manufacturing workforce, improving productivity, and helping companies and people in our community prosper.”

Food and drink sector economically ‘critical’ for the north-east

Patrick Machray, chairman of Food Hub (NES) – the company formed to deliver the SeedPod project – and vice-chairman of economic development partnership Opportunity North East, said: “Food and drink is the UK’s largest manufacturing sector, turns over £2.2 billion in north-east Scotland every year and already provides more than 22,000 jobs in the region.

“The sector’s growth is critical to our economic future – in the region and nationwide – as it can deliver new and higher-value jobs, increase exports of premium products to high-margin markets and play a leading role in the drive towards a low-carbon economy.

Patrick Machray

“The strategic partnership with NMIS will support SeedPod’s high-value manufacturing and low-carbon food production offer to food and drink producers that will be so important to catalysing industry growth, increasing productivity and delivering new, higher-skill jobs.”

Business Minister Ivan McKee said: “As we begin to make our way out of the Covid-19 pandemic and look to rebuild and grow Scotland’s economy, a vibrant and diverse manufacturing sector has never been more critical to long-term recovery and success.

“The network is an essential part of our support across industry, academia and the public sector working to deliver greater, greener and fairer prosperity for manufacturers across all of Scotland.”

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