Private sector led economic development body Opportunity North East (ONE) will target growth in food, drink, fishing and agriculture businesses across the region this year, backed by £1.6 million of investment.
ONE’s focus on the sector forms part of its wider regional agenda to lead the development and delivery of the vision and strategy for economic renaissance, build the life sciences sector, maximise the oil and gas opportunity, and evolve tourism to exploit new business and leisure opportunities. ONE’s priorities were developed in conjunction with industry and stakeholders and reflect the real opportunities within the region’s business base.
ONE will invest up to £800,000 in 2017/18 in food, drink and agriculture projects and programmes, which will secure around £800,000 of match funding from partners.
ONE’s activity in the sector includes a food and drink business growth programme, work with agriculture supply chains on efficiency and adding value, exploring data and digital opportunities to give North East businesses competitive advantage, and projects to improve products developed in the region and get them into more UK and international markets.
ONE will continue to lead on developing the business case to secure funding approval for the £20 million Agri-Food & Nutrition Hub for Innovation, a key innovation project within the £250 million Aberdeen City Region Deal – a partnership between Aberdeen City Council, Aberdeenshire Council and ONE and supported by funding from the UK and Scottish governments.
ONE’s established sector-specific partnership with Aberdeenshire Council will see the development of the North East Scotland Food & Drink Network and North East Scotland Food & Drink Awards. It will also continue to work with Scotland Food & Drink to drive better access to its range of support for businesses in the region.
In 2016/17, ONE’s first full operating year, highlights of its activity included detailed engagement with more than 100 businesses in the sector on business development opportunities, launching a high growth programme with 20 ambitious businesses, work on inward investment for dairy processing in the region and launching a new pig chain project with Quality Meat Scotland.
Pat Machray, Chairman of ONE Food, Drink & Agriculture, said: “Accelerating growth across the region’s food, drink, fishing and agriculture businesses is absolutely critical to ensuring that we have a strong and balanced economy in the future, which supports high quality employment. ONE’s focus is to add value by bringing both expertise and resource to the table to help businesses of all sizes to grow through efficiency, innovation, market development and skills.
“We have a strong and committed board that understands the sector and the regional position, and we have prioritised the activity that will catalyse growth and contribute to the future prosperity of North East Scotland by realising the economic renaissance vision,” said Mr Machray.
Peter Cook, Director of Food, Drink & Agriculture at ONE, said: “The year ahead is about providing resources, creating new partnerships and co-investment, and delivering the activity that will make a difference. We will continue to focus on the real opportunities for businesses in the sector to grow and address barriers to growth where there is an issue.
“This region has significant strengths – including large shares of primary production activity, established and emerging brands, and research capabilities – and building successfully on this competitive advantage will increase turnover, profitability and employment. ONE’s agenda fits with the regional economic strategy for the sector and supports the national target of doubling industry-wide turnover to £30 billion, set out earlier this year in the Ambition 2030 strategy,” said Mr Cook.