£6.9m funding boost for university food centre

Sheffield Hallam University (SHU) has received £6.9million from the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) to develop a National Centre of Excellence for Food Engineering.

The university will receive the figure as part of HEFCE’s Catalyst fund, which provides funding for university-led projects that work together with businesses to support the UK’s economic recovery.

Director of employment and skills at the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) Angela Coleshill, part of the Graduate Excellence partnerships backing the scheme, expressed her delight at the funding for the centre.

“The Centre has received a significant number of pledges of support by industry and will act as a hub for R&D and innovation solutions, as well as providing industry relevant competencies for Continuous Professional Development and workforce development,” she said.

“The Centre’s strong focus on mechanical engineering will be vital to helping us address industry’s current skills gaps in this area by exposing both current employees and students on the industry-backed MEng Food Engineering degree to the latest technology and developments.

She added: “Industry will benefit from having a world class facility focusing on finding solutions to the industry’s specific needs including production process adaptability, energy efficiency and waste reduction solutions – essential to ensure we realise our growth potential and to develop and equip engineers to be future leaders for the food industry.”

The centre will be fully operational by 2017, and includes industry support from partners Cargill, Dalehead Foods, Mars, McCain Foods, Nestlé, Premier Foods, Warburtons and William Jackson Food Group.

Partners will equipment, facilities, mentors and advisers to the project.

Dr Martin Howarth, head of engineering and mathematics at Sheffield Hallam University, added that the money will be used to increase the number of skilled graduates entering working life.

“We are delighted that this funding will go ahead as planned. Money will be used to develop a new Centre of excellence for food and drink engineering at Sheffield Hallam, dedicated to research and development,” he said.

“This, along with the new food and drink engineering degree which is available exclusively at the University from 2014, helps to build on our existing strong track record of providing excellent engineering education in partnership with industry, designed to help create highly skilled and employable graduates ready for the world of work.”