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Over 6,000 British food companies set to push culinary boundaries following innovation boost

Copyright: Thinkstock
News from: Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council
News from: Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
News from: Enterprise Partnership
News from: Food Innovation Network

From prolonging shelf life to developing new sources of protein – more than 6,000 British food and drink companies can now take advantage of new technologies and expert advice at the touch of a button, helping revolutionise the production of their food.

The new food industry network launched by Environment Secretary Andrea Leadsom today will give ambitious British entrepreneurs unparalleled access to first-class facilities – such as test kitchens and laboratories to help them launch new products onto the market.

By embracing new technology and tapping into ground-breaking research, UK food and drink manufacturers conserved 2695 Olympic sized swimming pools worth of water from their food production last year. Encouraging more food producers to use this type of innovation could help the economy grow faster than expected and increase it by £35Bn by 2030.

Launching the new network at Sand Hutton in York today, Environment Secretary Andrea Leadsom said: “Our thriving food and drink sector has already helped make Britain more globally competitive through its incredible innovation.

“From extending the shelf life of our food to increasing the amount of Vitamin D in our eggs – there is a remarkable amount of opportunities to make the sector as innovative and forward-looking as possible.

“The new Food Innovation Network will act as a catalyst for this type of work and lead to more businesses than ever pushing the boundaries of British food production.”

Defra alongside the York, North Yorkshire and East Riding Enterprise Partnership and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) appointed the Knowledge Transfer Network as the coordinator to take forward the project.

Simon Baty, FIN Co-ordinator, The Knowledge Transfer Network said: “The Food Innovation Network will identify the innovation needs of agri-food businesses and connect them with research experts, so that they can transform their superlative science into valuable, innovative, commercial products.”

Prof Melanie Welham, BBSRC chief executive, said: “The UK’s bioscience is truly world leading; the network will help industry access this expertise and join-up research and innovation across agricultural and food industries. We’re particularly excited to see the launch of a pilot programme to target academic and industrial partnering in research, which addresses key challenges in food, nutrition and health.”

The new network will act as a one-stop shop to test and bring to life new ideas and partnerships in the food and drink sector. It will help with any aspect of a food business – from new packaging to waste management. Businesses will be able to access expert advice through the online portal to help guide them through complex issues such as intellectual property and developing new technology.

Innovation is a key strand of Defra’s Great British Food Campaign – introduced earlier this year to celebrate our world-class food industry and culture, drive growth and jobs in the sector and establish Britain’s reputation as a great food nation.


Notes to editors

  1. For more information on about Defra’s Great British Food Campaign, please visit
  2. The Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN) is the UK’s innovation network, established by Innovate UK to help to deliver economic growth. KTN connect people to speed up innovation, solve problems and find markets for new ideas and bring together businesses, entrepreneurs, academics and funders to develop new products, processes and services to create value and benefit society. The Knowledge Transfer Network is a partnership of people who together form an unrivalled network of deep technical knowledge, breadth of expertise, and a firm comprehension of business needs
  3. Figures on water conservation were sourced by the Food and Drink Federation
  4. David A Kerfoot MBE DL, Vice Chair of the York, North Yorkshire and East Riding Enterprise Partnership (LEP) said: “Two of the biggest global challenges we face in the next 100 years are food and energy security. Innovation is essential to address this. York, North Yorkshire and the East Riding is ideally placed to be at the heart of this, demonstrating world class business, internationally renowned assets and industry on a global scale to provide the resilience and opportunity the UK so desperately needs”
  5. For further information, please contact the Defra press office (see external contacts below)


BBSRC invests in world-class bioscience research and training on behalf of the UK public. Our aim is to further scientific knowledge, to promote economic growth, wealth and job creation and to improve quality of life in the UK and beyond.

Funded by government, BBSRC invested £473 million in world-class bioscience, people and research infrastructure in 2015-16. We support research and training in universities and strategically funded institutes. BBSRC research and the people we fund are helping society to meet major challenges, including food security, green energy and healthier, longer lives. Our investments underpin important UK economic sectors, such as farming, food, industrial biotechnology and pharmaceuticals.

More information about BBSRC, our science and our impact.
More information about BBSRC strategically funded institutes.

External contact

Defra Press Office

+44 208 225 7626

Tags: food innovation technology research agri-food BBSRC press release funding