The Government has agreed to provide £12m in funding to help launch a revolutionary high-tech food manufacturing campus in Derby, which will create up to 4,500 jobs.
It will also provide an additional £6.85m to establish a manufacturing research centre in the city, generating 70 new roles and helping scores of local companies to access cutting-edge expertise to grow their operations in low-carbon and other advanced technologies.
Both initiatives form part of a recovery strategy to help reboot Derby’s economy after the coronavirus crisis. It is built on three key pillars – maintaining confidence, diversification and decarbonisation – and was described as “inspiring” by the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, Robert Jenrick, when he visited the city last month.
Central to it is money to help secure a huge new £300m high-tech food manufacturing and distribution campus in the city, to be developed and operated by SmartParc on 140 acres of the former Celanese site near Spondon.
The company’s revolutionary approach would bring food producers together to cluster knowledge and investment – reducing food waste, lowering carbon outputs and increasing UK food security.
The campus would include a shared energy plant, designed to reduce energy consumption by 30 per cent, and would harness the latest technology to improve production and efficiency, lowering costs by 20 per cent.
It will embrace the latest scientific developments, such as vertical farming – where crops are grown indoors in stacked layers, mitigating the vagaries of the weather and eliminating the need for pesticides.
A central distribution facility will allow manufacturers to consolidate both raw materials and finished goods, improving efficiency and lowering food miles.
As well as creating up to 4,500 direct jobs, the project would generate further employment in the supply chain and throughout the local region.
Work will start in the first quarter of 2021 and a planned opening, with initial occupancy, will take place later that year. Full project realisation is expected by 2024.