Work has started on the University of Lincoln’s new agri-food research and development facility in Holbeach.

Work started at the end of July on the University of Lincoln’s new agri-food research and development facility which will be the linchpin of the Food Enterprise Zone in Holbeach.

The Centre of Excellence in Agri-food Technology will deliver innovation support services, pioneering research, skills provision and knowledge exchange for agri-food businesses across Lincolnshire and beyond.

The LEP has contributed £2.4 million towards the project via the Government's Growth Deal.

Lincolnshire County Council is constructing a new access road for the site, as well as installing utilities for the plots that will be sold or let to agri-food businesses.

The FEZ will be located next to the A17 and A151 and is designed to support agri-food businesses, with a particular focus on the food technology sector. When complete, phase one of the multi-million pound development will create around 16,000 square metres of new business space, capable of supporting over 400 jobs.

As the first building on the site, the Centre of Excellence will build on the success of the University of Lincoln’s Holbeach campus, home to the National Centre for Food Manufacturing.

It will be an innovation hub promoting the rapid uptake of advanced technologies such as robotics and automation and ensuring the UK’s agri-food industry remains competitive and able to overcome challenges facing the supply chain from farm to fork.

Our Chair Ursula Lidbetter OBE said: “We are extremely pleased to be involved in this key location for future economic growth in Lincolnshire, investing £5.3m into crucial infrastructure provision on site and developing the new Agri-food Centre of Excellence.

“The Holbeach FEZ will build on its close proximity to the National Centre for Food Manufacturing, focusing on the high-value food chain as well as research, innovation and technology for a variety of food industries. Regarded nationally as an East Midlands Manufacturing Zone, the site is expected to support 2,034 jobs and over 900 new homes.”

Professor Val Braybrooks, Dean of Holbeach for the University of Lincoln, said: “The agri-food sector and its supply chains underpin the economy of Greater Lincolnshire. Growing and evolving global food markets are creating unprecedented opportunities for both established and early stage businesses as suppliers of innovative new products and technologies.

“The centre of excellence will provide these businesses with even greater access to the university’s world-leading expertise and facilities, boosting strategies for developing R&D in the agri-food sector and enabling them to invest in new technologies with confidence.”

The new facility will include microbiology and chemistry laboratories, a high-tech test kitchen and sensory suite, break space, and seminar rooms. It is designed to house a community of leading industrial scientists and their support teams, working to meet the innovation, research and knowledge transfer needs of Greater Lincolnshire’s agri-food businesses, notably small and medium-sized enterprises.

The Holbeach FEZ is funded by the Greater Lincolnshire LEP, Lincolnshire County Council and the Midlands Engine, with South Holland District Council and the University of Lincoln partners in the scheme.