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East Midlands Chamber News

£12m funding for high-tech food manufacturing SmartParc campus in Derby

The development of a revolutionary high-tech food manufacturing campus in Derby has moved a step forward after the Government pledged to provide £12m in funding.

It will bring food producers together to cluster knowledge and investment – with the aim of reducing food waste, lowering carbon emissions and increasing national food security.

The £300m campus, to be developed and operated by a dedicated new group called SmartParc on 140 acres of the former Celanese site near Spondon, will create up to 4,500 jobs.

The new funding was announced as part of the £900m Getting Building Fund (GBF), which follows Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s “New Deal” strategy that aims to get shovel-ready infrastructure projects up off the ground to support economic recovery and create jobs.

SmartParc chief executive Jackie Wild said it will put Derby and Britain at the “heart of the future of sustainable food manufacturing globally”.

She added: “The planned SmartParc campus will combine world-class food production facilities with shared utilities, amenities and services to provide a highly sustainable, low-cost production base for food manufacturers and new ways to reach end customers while reducing food miles and food waste.

“It will also act as a community hub, with a new food innovation centre and skills facility and planned partnerships with local charities, schools and universities to reconnect people with the food they eat.

“We are delighted to receive Government backing for our ambition and look forward to working with Derby City Council, local universities, businesses and communities to share our vision and deliver up to 4,500 new jobs in the area over the coming years.”

What is the SmartParc campus in Derby?

The SmartParc campus will include a shared energy plant that is designed to reduce energy consumption by 30 per cent.

Harnessing the latest technology to improve production and efficiency could also lower costs by 20 per cent.

It will embrace the latest scientific developments, such as vertical farming – where crops are grown indoors in stacked layers, mitigating the vagaries of the weather and eliminating the need for pesticides.

A central distribution facility will allow manufacturers to consolidate both raw materials and finished goods, improving efficiency and lowering food miles.

As well as creating up to 4,500 direct jobs, the project will generate further employment in the supply chain and throughout the region.

Work is anticipated to begin in the first quarter of 2021 and a planned opening, with initial occupancy, will take place later in the year. Full project realisation is expected by 2024.

Derby advanced manufacturing research centre also receives Government funding

The Government’s £44.4m funding allocated to the D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership is for 10 projects in Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire.

Another key Derby project is to establish a permanent home for the Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre at Infinity Park.

The organisation helps companies develop new techniques and processes to win work in the nuclear sector and tackle manufacturing challenges in automotive, rail, aerospace, renewable energy and other high-value sectors.

A pilot operation has been running at Infinity Park’s iHub since February last year. It has involved the centre working on projects with the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority and Sellafield nuclear plant, as well as collaborations with East Midlands universities on renewable energy and decarbonising transport initiatives.

The new building will also become a base for the University of Derby’s Institute of Innovation in Sustainable Engineering, which has developed an international reputation for innovation in design, manufacturing, product lifecycle management and the application of new and smart materials.

The Government will contribute £6.85m towards the £20m project, which will generate 70 new jobs.

Derby City Council leader Chris Poulter said the Government’s funding commitment was a huge vote of confidence in the city’s economic recovery strategy.

He added: “Throughout the past four months, we have been doing all we can to support existing businesses but also looking at opportunities for the future – to diversify our economy, to improve our environmental credentials and to make Derby a brilliant place to live and work.

“Today’s announcement is a massive boost for those plans and we look forward to working with our partners to deliver these fantastic new projects.”