The University's ZERO2FIVE Food Industry Centre is one of three Welsh food centres that has developed Welsh Government's Project HELIX, a new £21 million programme to strengthen Wales' food and drink sector and is expected to safeguard 2,000 jobs and deliver over £100 million for the Welsh economy.
Cardiff Metropolitan University's ZERO2FIVE Food Industry Centre, Food Centre Wales based in Ceredigion and Grŵp Llandrillo Menai form the collaborative Welsh Government-funded body Food Innovation Wales (FIW.) FIW has developed Project HELIX to provide funding support for research into global food production, trends and waste to help small to medium sized food manufacturers across Wales to increase production and reduce waste.
Project HELIX is funded through the Rural Development Programme (RDP) and is expected to create 370 new jobs, primarily in rural Wales and the Valleys, while safeguarding a further 2,000 over the next five years.
The project will take into consideration new challenges and opportunities facing the industry including the UK's decision to leave the EU. The outputs will provide Welsh producers with the best opportunity for growth and economic impact.
HELIX was launched at Welsh Government's TasteWales event last week where over 100 Welsh producers showcased the very best of the Welsh food and drink industry to over 150 UK and international buyers.
The Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths said:
"We've set ambitious targets for the food and drink industry to achieve growth of 30% by 2020 and I am pleased to say we are firmly on course to meet that target. Project HELIX is the next step on the journey to ensure our food and drink industry is globally recognised for quality, creativity and skills."
Project HELIX will support food manufacturers over the next five years in:
Innovation –fast-tracking new innovative products and food company start-ups
Efficiency – assisting businesses to reduce waste during food processing thereby securing costs savings and waste reduction
Strategy – seeking to ensure a world-class industry through advanced skills in key areas, such as food technology
Project HELIX is an ambitious initiative, building on the success ZERO2FIVE Food Industry Centre and Food Technology Centre, Coleg Menai had with the previous KITE Project (Knowledge Innovation Technology Exchange.) This was an EU and Welsh Government-funded programme to facilitate proactive partnerships between SME food businesses and graduates and individuals with industry experience and Welsh Food Centres.
Over 120 knowledge transfer programmes have been delivered at ZERO2FIVE Food Industry Centre, which have resulted in an increased turnover of £103 million for Welsh food and drink businesses, creating over 580 jobs and launching over 500 new products to market.
The centre is one of excellence, where experts include internationally acclaimed specialists in Food Science, Nutrition, Dietetics, Food Legislation, Environmental Health, Trading Standards, New Product Development, Food Safety and Biomedical Sciences. Much of the research they carry out is, like Project HELIX, interdisciplinary and collaborative between Government, industry and academics.
Professor David Lloyd, Director of the ZERO2FIVE Food Industry Centre and Vice Chairman of the Wales Food and Drink Industry Board, said:
"We want the industry to be innovative in a variety of disciplines, from improving nutritional standards and new product development in response to health and well-being challenges to retail and market trends. Our aim is to put Wales on the global food and drink map, and to do that, HELIX will provide high levels of support such as identifying business people who want to invest or advising food manufacturers on technical standards and regulations."
Martin Jardine, Food Technology Centre Manager at Grŵp Llandrillo Menai, another of the Food Innovation Wales partners, said:
"Efficiency is critical to business success, from being more responsive to changing markets, meeting environmental challenges like reducing food miles and food waste, right through to making the supply chain more effective. By forensically looking at ways to become more efficient on each and every step of the food and drink journey, I'm confident that the sector in Wales has a very bright future."
Completing the FIW partnership is Eirlys Lloyd of Food Centre Wales based in Ceredigion, who added: Food Technology Centre Manager at Grŵp Llandrillo Menai
"By being more strategic there is huge potential for the Welsh food and drink sector to improve and realise its ambitious growth targets. Through the HELIX Project we will support businesses in Wales to analyse their entire operation and strategically plan every element, including industrial manufacturing, food processing, public engagement and skills training and development."