The Food research development centre located on the University of Chester campus will be the first venue in the North West of England that represents numerous foods and drink sector activities.
Food and Drink enterprises are seen to be the future of economic growth. There is real wealth of business talent in the area with a variety of organisations setting up across the region ranging from craft breweries and home-made jam to food technology and research companies.
The proposed research centre will be supporting the businesses in the food sector, attracting investment locally and putting them at the cutting edge of the industry.
Although the centre has no purpose for students, it has a production kitchen with the latest equipment and facilities for SME’s to access services they have been unable to access previously.
Maud Duthie, food Innovation Partnerships Manager Said: “Chester was our first choice of location due to the benefits it would bring to the city and the university itself. We believe that the centre would make a vital contribution to the local economy and market the university in a wider field.
“We have an aim to increase the small number or SME’s that are engaged with the higher education sector.”
The project that has been valued at £4.8 million is co- funded by the European Regional Development Fund and the University of Chester. It will consist of a three- storey building dedicated to industry- specific food and drink research and development activity. It will also include conference and meeting rooms as well as a hot desk space.
In response to this Sioned Williams a student at the University said: “It’s good that opportunities are being brought into the University, but shouldn’t the university be spending money on improving existing courses already here, especially with the rise to £9000 in tuition fees.”
Professor Graham Bonwick, programme leader BSc Biology said: “We are the only single venue that offers the full range of support that small food producers need. The centre will provide much more than just a space for current range of products, it will offer expertise and top of the range equipment as well as demonstrations for the current equipment, tests that are required to get the product onto the shelf and space to work with experienced food professionals.
“The huge space offered at the centre will allow researchers to host large events, such as product launches, designs expos and much more.”
“In my opinion this project is what the university needs; it will bring in many research opportunities for graduate students and raise the profile at Chester University as a research facility like many other Universities in the North West.” Tina Coward, a third year student at the University.
The Centre is due to open in the early months of 2014, a definite date is yet to be confirmed. For more information please visit http://www.chester.ac.uk/nowfood
Chester Intelligencer Reporter, Lisa Jones