A multi-million pound plan to revitalise the north-east’s food and drink economy has taken a major step forward with the release of a £7.7 million contract to design and construct a new centre outside Aberdeen.
The SeedPod project, a £21 million investment in Grampian’s food and drink industry, will look to create a centre of excellence and double the value of the sector with a new industry development hub.
Opportunity North East (One), who are leading the development, said it plans to “accelerate growth and build on the strengths of the food industry cluster” in Grampian.
The project includes £10 million of capital funding provided by the Scottish and UK Government through the Aberdeen City Region Deal – a partnership between both governments, One, Aberdeen City Council and Aberdeenshire Council.
One, which is headed up by oil veteran businessman and billionaire Sir Ian Wood, contributed £4.4 million to the plans.
SeedPod will be a new-build facility located close to Aberdeen International Airport and the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route.
A new company, Food Hub (NES), has been established to deliver the project.
The north-east accounts for more than 20% of Scotland’s food and drink output and employs more than 22,000 people across Aberdeenshire and Aberdeen.
One said it believes the growth of new and established businesses in the region is “vital” to its long-term economic recovery and diversification.
Neil Freckingham, Food Hub director at One, said: “SeedPod will be the go-to place to deliver the regional ambition to grow the size and value of the food and drink sector.
“It will stimulate and support a consumer-focussed, customer-driven approach across all areas of the industry to inspire established businesses to innovate and grow and to nurture new start-ups.
“We hope it will create opportunities to pilot advanced manufacturing processes and technology, scale-up production, inspire new product development and provide access to global market insights.
“SeedPod will also offer bespoke programmes and specialist facilities, including incubator commercial-grade manufacturing units; development kitchens; full-service managed production and storage space; presentation areas; co-working and collaboration space.”
Mr Freckingham added that the concept design stage for SeedPod is completed, with One now in “detailed design development” and that the Food Hub board has now given its approval to “start the procurement process for the main contractor for the project”.