We are delighted to announce that at this year’s Fruit Focus, we are bringing a brand-new networking hub to the event. The Growing Kent & Medway Sustainability Hub will welcome businesses of all sizes to use the hub as an informal meeting space to connect with other businesses and research specialists.

You can also find out how our free products and services can support your business to grow, with talks on sustainable innovation happening throughout the day.

The Growing Kent & Medway Sustainability Hub promises to be a central point for your Fruit Focus networking, here is what you can expect during the day:

Sustainability Hub Schedule

9.40am: Accelerating sustainable food and drink innovation – Dr Nikki Harrison, Growing Kent & Medway

Growing Kent & Medway’s Programme Director, Nikki Harrison, will share her plans for the enterprise cluster and how businesses across the horticultural food and drink supply chain can benefit from tailored support packages. You will also hear about their special interest business networks, designed to coordinate and accelerate innovation in sustainable packaging, the circular economy and the alternative protein sector.

10am: Fast-tracking your food idea to market: Valerie Pondaven, University of Greenwich

Are you interested in scaling-up your business fast? Or do you have a new product or service you would like to take to market? Valerie Pondaven will explain how you could benefit from 6-months of intensive business, financial and technical support, expert advice and access to research facilities as part of Growing Kent & Medway: Medway Food Innovation Centre (University of Greenwich), GreenTech Hub for Advanced Horticulture (NIAB) and the Biotechnology Hub (University of Kent).

11am and 2pm: Join us for a tour of the new GreenTech Hub for Advanced Horticulture

1.30pm: Mentoring: Getting the right support for your business – Rebecca Smith, University of Kent

Mentoring can transform both businesses and the people working in them through providing support and sharing experiences. In this talk we explore how the relationship between Mentors and those receiving support benefits everyone and makes a direct and tangible difference to businesses.

Find out more about how Growing Kent & Medway is building a powerful network of experts to drive innovation, growth and success across the region. With practical tips on how you can be involved and make the most out of your mentoring journey.

2pm: ‘Growing Green’ – moving fresh produce businesses towards net zero – Dr Robert Saville, NIAB

Funded by the Government’s Community Renewal Fund, 40 horticultural food and drink businesses are currently on a journey towards net zero thanks to a pilot training programme, Growing Green. Robert Saville will share some of the common challenges facing the fruit sector and share some innovative approaches these businesses are taking to tackle them.

2.30pm: Funding Innovation: Grant opportunities for horticulture – Dr Nikki Harrison, Growing Kent & Medway

Accessing funding for investment in technical research can be challenging, but collaboration between industry and academia is critical to drive innovation in the sector. This session will announce a new collaborative grant competition for the horticultural food and drink supply chain. Nikki will provide details on how to apply for vouchers to access cutting-edge research facilities and expertise in the region. You will also hear from previously successful grant winners from the fruit sector on their experience of funding technical innovation.

3.30pm: ‘Growing Talent’ – bringing new skills to the fresh produce sector – Sapphira Waterston, MDS Limited

The route into fresh produce is not always obvious, and those considering it at a career crossroads may be reluctant to start over and spend time working their way up. MDS Ltd and Growing Kent & Medway have teamed up to create the UK’s first regional apprenticeship hub for the fresh produce sector. Growing Talent will work with fresh produce businesses in Kent & Medway to offer ambitious non-graduates and career changers a dynamic two-year paid traineeship.

We look forward to welcoming you on 13th July.