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Winning projects announced for sustainable food competition

Winning projects announced for sustainable food competition

We have awarded over £320,000 to 13 businesses to work with leading local research specialists to advance sustainable innovation in horticulture and plant-based food production.

The vouchers will fund a range of projects. From testing innovative processing techniques to prevent separation in plant-based milks, to pest and disease control in horticultural crops.

Our Business Innovation Vouchers allow organisations to draw upon the expertise of technical specialists based at three research institutes in Kent and Medway. Applicants had to propose an innovative idea to help make their products, processes or production more sustainable. The competition was open to businesses across the horticulture and plant-based food and drink industries.

Other winning projects include developing a method for testing the health claims of mushroom-based health products, alternative sustainable materials for fresh produce packaging, and novel techniques for producing non-alcoholic wines from Kent vineyards.

Dr Nikki Harrison, Director, Growing Kent & Medway, said: “The projects we have funded demonstrate innovative thinking to tackle some of the main challenges facing our UK food systems.

“Our voucher scheme gives businesses across the UK access to the cutting-edge research facilities we have here in Kent and Medway. The specialists at these institutions are leading the way in helping to make our food systems more sustainable. From innovations in plant-based foods, to sustainable packaging, to increasing the carbon we can store in our fields. Kent is at the forefront of innovation in sustainable food systems and we’re excited to be connecting businesses across the UK to these centres.”

Osama Rashed, Mochi Bros who successfully applied for funding, said: “We applied for the Business Innovation Voucher to help fund the critical research needed to make our innovative clean-label mochi commercially viable. Keeping the label clean, whilst maintaining stability and shelf life, has proven to be a difficult task for us, so we look forward to working with the team at the Medway Food Innovation Centre to find a solution.

“As a bootstrapped start-up we would not have been able to access the technical expertise required to undertake this project without the Voucher. We’re excited to get the project underway and look forward to bringing clean-label mochi to the masses!"

Belinda Kemp, NIAB with Jerome Harlington, CEO HWB Group

Jerome Harlington, CEO HWB Group, who successfully applied for funding, said: “We applied for a Business Innovation Voucher to harness cutting-edge research and development capabilities and to realise our vision of creating the UK's first premium, locally sourced, alcohol-free wine.

“We aim to pioneer a new market segment with a product that reflects the rich heritage and exceptional quality of UK viticulture. We felt that Kent reflects among the best produce the UK has to offer, and working with the research team, NIAB is the perfect base to carry out this groundbreaking project. Undertaking this research in Kent, using local produce, is vital as it allows us to maintain the authenticity of the region's flavour profile while contributing to the local economy and harnessing sustainable agricultural practices. Our goal for this collaboration is to set a new standard in alcohol-free wine."

Dr Louise Sutherland, British Berry Growers said: “British Berry Growers are delighted to have been awarded a Growing Kent and Medway business innovation voucher. This is an exciting opportunity to work with NIAB’s world-leading entomological team to develop a new and innovative way for UK soft fruit growers to boost natural biological controls.”

The vouchers awarded to each of the 13 businesses ranged from £15,000 to £30,000. The projects will last up to 12 months and could be used in collaboration with NIAB, University of Kent or University of Greenwich. Applications closed in January 2024.


To read the full list of successful projects, visit growingkentandmedway.com/news/business-innovation-voucher-winning-projects-2024/


Picture: Plant-based Mochi gelato sandwich, by Mochi Bros