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Seedpod project reaches a key milestone

By David Porter

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A planning application for the £21 million Seedpod industry development hub at Craibstone has been submitted to Aberdeen City Council.

This is a crucial milestone for the project to realise industry’s ambition to double the size of north east Scotland’s £2.2 billion food and drink sector.

The Seed Pod project at Craibstone
The Seed Pod project at Craibstone

Led by Opportunity North East (ONE), the transformational SeedPod investment will put the region's manufacturing and processing businesses at the forefront of innovation, productivity and sustainability, increasing high-value exports and creating new jobs.

It will play a key role in the green economic recovery, helping businesses and the sector deliver low-carbon production and contribute to net-zero goals.

SeedPod aims to increase sector turnover by five per cent a year.

It will help established companies accelerate growth through innovation and technology adoption, market and product development, global consumer focus and provide start-up production space and development facilities for high-growth new businesses.

SeedPod will be located on SRUC’s Craibstone campus.

A public procurement process is under way to appoint a main contractor for the construction phase, with the new-build project programmed to start later this year.

SeedPod includes £10 million of capital funding provided jointly by the UK Government and Scottish Government via the Aberdeen City Region Deal (ACRD) – a partnership between both governments, ONE, Aberdeen City Council and Aberdeenshire Council. ONE is the lead ACRD partner for delivery of SeedPod, has committed £4.4 million of funding towards the delivery of SeedPod’s objectives and has set up Food Hub (NES) Limited with an industry board to deliver the project. SRUC is a strategic delivery partner and is providing the site for SeedPod.

Professor Wayne Powell, principal and chief executive of SRUC, said: “SeedPod is an exciting venture, partner and new neighbour for SRUC. We’re looking forward to working with SeedPod to help grow the natural economy from field to fork.”

Patrick Machray OBE is chair of Food Hub (NES) Ltd and vice chair of ONE.

He said: “SeedPod is the critical ingredient that will help north-east Scotland's significant food and drink sector to innovate, accelerate growth, increase productivity and target foods of the future products at high-margin markets.

"It will provide young businesses with essential space to grow in its production incubator units, support established companies with productivity and market development, and is a strategic asset at a critical time for national sector recovery and growth.”

SeedPod will be the go-to industry development hub providing specialist support and facilities for growing start-up, early-stage and established businesses that include:

Sector-specific business growth, leadership and mentoring programmes.

Access to global consumer and market insights.

12 commercial-grade manufacturing and production incubator units and two development kitchens.

Full-service managed production and storage space; presentation areas; co-working and collaboration space, and demonstration space to pilot processes and technology.

More than 22,000 people work in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire food and drink businesses.

The region accounts for more than a fifth of Scotland’s total food and drink outputs with sustainable, premium supply chains from farm and fishery to consumer.

The sector’s growth is essential to the region’s future economy.

It supports the national drive to premiumise food and drink in global export markets while supporting higher-value jobs and manufacturing at home.

Regional and national partners emphasised the importance of the project to economic recovery, sector growth and jobs.

Aberdeenshire Council leader councillor Andy Kille said: “Aberdeenshire is known internationally for the quality of its food and drink, and the produce generated in our area is second to none.

"To have this facility on the doorstep of local producers allows them to be at the heart of the future of their sector and drive the innovation for which Aberdeenshire is known.”

UK Government Minister Iain Stewart said: “This is a great example of the UK and Scottish governments working together with regional partners to support innovation and growth in Scotland’s iconic food and drink sector.”

Scottish Government Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity Michael Matheson said: “Across Scotland we have so far committed more than £1.9 billion to City Region and Growth Deals and additional investments.

"The Scottish Government is a full partner in the Aberdeen City Region City Deal, contributing £125 million over ten years.

"The investment in this project through the Deal will contribute to the region’s economic recovery by creating jobs and providing the commercial infrastructure to support and attract businesses to Aberdeen and the surrounding areas.”

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