Major government investment awarded to horticulture, food and drink industries in Kent and Medway


‘Growing Kent & Medway’, a project focused on strengthening the competitiveness of Britain’s horticulture, food and drink industries, has been awarded £18 million in funding under the UK Government’s ‘Strength in Places’ scheme.

As part of a consortium of partners, the University of Greenwich's contribution to 'Growing Kent and Medway' draws on the university's strengths in crop protection, post-harvest storage, value addition and food innovation at the Natural Resources Institute (NRI), with other inputs from the wider Faculty of Engineering and Science.NRI Logo

Building on over a century of agricultural research in Kent, the project aims to turbo-charge the research, innovation and enterprise environment to boost growth in this critical sector for the UK

Led by NIAB EMR, a horticultural research organisation based in East Malling, Kent, 'Growing Kent & Medway' will promote the adoption of the latest horticultural technologies, plant growing techniques and the development of new and exciting crops to boost food production and economic growth, including the construction of new science facilities. The project will also strengthen the region's food processing, handling, distribution and value addition industries. Research capacity and co-invested industry engagement will be strengthened to drive innovation, commercialisation and sector development. As part of this project, a major focus of NRI's work will be to launch a new food innovation facility to support food industries in Medway and Kent.

This will establish Kent and Medway as a world-leading region for the climate-smart production and processing of high-value, nutrient-rich foods and plant-based products.The awarding of this level of funds to the 'Growing Kent & Medway' project further cements the area as being a national and international hub for innovation.

Professor Jane Harrington, Vice Chancellor of the University of Greenwich, said, "I am delighted that the skills and expertise of our Natural Resources Institute and Faculty of Engineering and Science are being applied to the horticulture and food industries to drive economic growth in Kent and Medway. We are always incredibly excited by any project that brings investment and growth to our vital local communities."

Professor Mario Caccamo, Managing Director of NIAB EMR, added: "Growing Kent & Medway can now get to work to consolidate this part of the UK as the leading region for the production and processing of high-value foods. This project is particularly significant as we look to emerge from the Covid-19 crisis, and address some of the most pressing challenges faced by the agricultural sector. It would not have been possible to successfully reach the final stage of this very competitive scheme without our partners, the support of the Kent and Medway Councils and our local MPS, who have collectively recognised the significance of what the excellent scientific and research programmes can do for the regional economy. We will drive inclusive wealth creation so that untapped human capital can contribute to, and share in the region's prosperity."

Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Alok Sharma, said:  

"Today's announcement will ensure some of our country's most promising R&D projects get the investment they need to take off and thrive. Working with the private sector our world-class universities, we're backing new and innovative ideas that will create jobs and boost skills in every part of the UK for years to come." 

The Growing Kent & Medway project brings together a world-class consortium of businesses and academic institutions, including APS Produce, Berry Gardens Growers, Chapel Down, Geku Automation, Gusbourne Estate, Richard Hochfeld Group, NIAB EMR, Smurfit Kappa, Thanet Earth, Worldwide Fruit, the University of Kent, and the Natural Resources Institute (NRI)/University of Greenwich. The project is also backed by the local civic leadership with partners from the Kent & Medway Economic Partnership and Locate in Kent.

The NRI announcement can be seen here