The University of Kent is excited to be part of the innovative Growing Kent and Medway project, which officially launched at the Fruit Focus event on 21 July.
Led by horticultural and agricultural research institution NIAB EMR, the project will strengthen the competitiveness of Britain’s horticulture, food and drink industries thanks to government funding provided through UK Research and Innovation’s flagship Strength in Places Fund.
The University is receiving £3.14m of the project’s funding to develop a multi-disciplinary research and training programme to improve the region’s Agri-Tech capabilities by collaborating alongside Kent businesses.
The Biotechnology Hub for Sustainable Food and Drink is run by Kent’s School of Biosciences to apply high-tech approaches to production and processing of high-value foods and plant-based compounds from plant material and waste, pathogen identification and control, and maintenance of healthy soil.
Dr Alessia Buscaino, Reader in Fungal Epigenetics in the School of Biosciences and co-lead of the initiative said: ‘Growing Kent and Medway works with a series of regional companies from producer to farmer to ensure they are taking advantage of the latest technologies and innovations. Our aim is to innovate hundreds of local businesses, from small start-ups to larger, well known brands like Chapel Down or smaller brands such as ketchup producer, Wonderchup.’
Professor George Chryssochoidis and Professor Ben Lowe lead Kent Business School’s innovative Mentoring Hub, offering specialist advice on how to market a business and promote products.
Professor Chryssochoidis, Professor of Marketing at Kent Business School said: ‘In a post Brexit and Covid world, we require rethinking of how Kent’s horticulture, fresh produce packaging, food and drink processing economy can move forward. Growing Kent and Medway is aiming to deliver ground-breaking support and solutions to the region to enhance related innovation and growth. Local businesses co-working with researchers from the University can access funds to deliver solutions that are fit for purpose.’
Funding grants of up to £250,000 will be made available from Growing Kent and Medway to assist projects that aim to develop green technologies, processes or products for horticultural food and drink businesses across Kent and Medway.
Applications open from 6 September 2021 and must be by Kent or Medway-based businesses, or carrying out significant economic activity in the region, working in horticultural food and drink sector or enabling technologies. You can find more information about the grants here.