The new fund is designed to grow the UK’s food engineering capability, through the National Centre of Excellence for Food Engineering (NCEFE) at Sheffield Hallam University.
The aim is to bring together industry and academia to research and develop efficient solutions for the sector.
The industry was constantly under pressure to make resources go further, said the Food and Drink Federation (FDF), which has also praised the Improving food supply chain efficiency fund’s creation.
It would enable manufacturers to cut waste, use energy, water and raw materials more efficiently and enhance their processing capabilities, the FDF said.
“Access to this fund will support new and innovative engineering solutions that will help improve the industry's competitiveness and ultimately deliver better resource efficiency,” said Darby, who is also chairman of the Industry Advisory Board for the NCEFE.
“The Centre of Excellence for Food Engineering will play an important role as a hub for industry collaboration to address a range of industry-wide challenges."
FDF director general Melanie Leech said: “I am delighted the importance of the food industry has been recognised through this major new investment, which will allow businesses to collaborate to find industry-wide innovative engineering solutions, creating a more resilient and resource-efficient food and drink manufacturing supply chain
“Through initiatives such as this fund and the development of the National Centre of Excellence for Food Engineering at Sheffield Hallam University, industry will be able to unlock its growth potential and drive competitive advantage.”
Innovate UK – formerly the Technology Strategy Board – the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) are backing the project.
Businesses will be able to start pitching for funding from October 13, with noon on December 3 being the cut-off point for applications. A webinar for potential applications will be held on October 15. For more information, click here.
Darby is one of the candidates for Food Manufacture Group’s Personality of the Year Award. Others include Greencore ceo Patrick Coveney and Chris Elliott, professor of food safety, director of the Institute for Global Food Security at Queen’s University Belfast and author of the Elliott Review into the food supply chain following the 2013 horsemeat scandal.
Readers decide on the winner and can cast their online vote here, but be quick! Voting closes this Friday (September26).