UK – The United Kingdom’s Department for International Trade (DIT) has backed a new proposal to market the UK counties of Norfolk and Suffolk as the go-to destination for investments in plant science, health and nutrition.
Norfolk and Suffolk are already home to global food and drink brands and more than 1,000 manufacturing businesses employing over 35,000 people.
The plan therefore focuses on attracting more businesses to use the region’s globally renowned plant science expertise to develop nutritious food products.
Core to the plan is Norwich Research Park, Europe’s largest single-site hub of research, training, education and enterprise-focused on plant science, food and health.
The park’s 3,000 researchers and clinicians and around 150 science and technology businesses focus on the full range of technical activities required to research, develop, commercialize, test and market new scientific products.
Following the backing from DIT, the Norfolk and Suffolk plan will be added to the departments High Potential Opportunities (HPO) program which selects focused investment opportunities to promote internationally.
The work behind the HPO bid includes developing a network of commercial opportunities to attract new businesses, both through new companies moving to the area from overseas and supporting existing businesses to attract more significant investment from parent companies.
There will also be support for innovative start-ups and early-stage firms to create a dynamic and growing cluster that will continue to attract investors worldwide.
“The HPO process will help to raise the profile of our region on the international stage,” says David Dukes, New Anglia LEP’s head of inward investment.
According to Dukes, the UK is ideal for developing nutritious food products as it specializes in plant science and agri-food.
“Investors will have access to the expertise of partners at the Norwich Research Park, a strong agri-food business network and an innovative testbed with cutting-edge developments in the pipeline,” he elaborates.
The move comes amid a growing global demand for more nutritious food products that improves both physical and cognitive health.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, medical advice has highlighted the increased risks of infection and mortality from poor diets, diabetes and obesity, accelerating demand for healthy products even further.
The UK has an established and globally respected food industry, recognized for quality, authenticity and traceability which can be leveraged by international food companies to meet rising demand for healthy products.
Furthermore, the UK government has provided access to non-dilutive investment and further incentivized innovation with R&D tax credits.
According to Dr. Jonathan Clarke, head of business development at the John Innes Centre, when combined with access to a skilled labor force, the UK is an attractive environment for the growth of innovative small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and large companies.
With the backing from DIT, the now has building blocks required to create a food-focused plant science cluster that can compete with international hubs including St Louis (Missouri), Memphis (Tennessee) and the Wageningen Food Valley (Netherlands).
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