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City Deal backing

£40m pledge for food and drink innovation hub

James Withers: catalyst (pic: Terry Murden)

A flagship food & drink innovation hub in East Lothian has been given the green light by officials, unlocking £40m City Region Deal funding for Edinburgh Innovation Park.

The full business case was passed by Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal Joint Committee after a presentation by joint venture partners for the development, Queen Margaret University (QMU) and East Lothian Council.

The Food and Drink Innovation Hub is supported by £28.6 million from the UK Government, £1.4 million from the Scottish Government and £10 million from East Lothian Council as part of the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal. 

The deal is a £1.3 billion regional investment programme jointly funded by the UK and Scottish governments and regional partners.  

The hub will focus on food and drink related innovation within the context of health and wellbeing and will include serviced laboratories and office accommodation as well as facilities for events.

It will accommodate facilities of the Scottish Centre for Food Development and Innovation, already a successful research partner to the food and drink sector, and will offer access to equipment, knowledge and skills to support product development and product launches.​ 

James Withers, chief executive of Scotland Food and Drink, said: “Despite the challenges the industry has faced over the last year, Scotland’s food and drink sector has huge opportunities ahead of it, both in markets locally and globally.

“Pivotal to grasping these opportunities is innovation and increasing the collaborative working between Scotland‘s universities, research base and our food and drink producers. This investment is exactly the kind of catalyst to make that happen.”

As well as bricks and mortar, there will be a full programme of activities to foster innovation, boost female entrepreneurship, and address market and societal need.

The innovation hub is located next to the QMU campus on the boundaries of both Edinburgh and Midlothian. It will be the anchor for Edinburgh Innovation Park which will be developed over time to create a nationally significant centre of knowledge exchange, innovation and high value business growth.

Work will commence immediately to select the design team and finalise designs for the hub. Construction is expected to begin early in 2023 and will be completed in 2025.

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