The new Broadland Food Innovation Centre provides the food and drink community with a prestigious facility within the Norfolk Food Enterprise Zone to grow their businesses. The centre, delivered by contractor Willmott Dixon, is Norfolk and Suffolk’s first dedicated food grade innovation space.
The Broadland Food Innovation Centre, in Broadland District near Norwich, with a build value of around £11m, is a focused public-private research partnership that champions the food and drink economy in Norfolk and Suffolk led by Broadland District Council. Funding partners are European Regional Development Fund and New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, and project partners include Hethel Innovation and the University of East Anglia.
Comprising two linked buildings housing 13 individual units with a total net lettable area of 36,000ft2 and fitted out to the British Retail Consortium food hygiene grade and including test kitchen and sensory tasting spaces plus a central ‘green street’, they offer SMEs and entrepreneurs operating in the food and drink sector the ideal environment for innovation and business growth.
Together with the 2000ft2 innovation hub building, the centre has been designed to ensure the long-term development of the surrounding industry aimed specifically at helping new and existing businesses thrive, through nurturing ideas and enabling increased capacity for the processing of agricultural output. Importantly, the scheme also achieved a BREEAM ‘Excellent’ rating.
Procured using the SCAPE National Major Works framework, award-winning property consultancy Summers-Inman was employed to provide quantity surveying and project management services having submitted a strong tender based on its previous experience within the sector and its demonstration of quality.
Sustainability shaped the design, which incorporated a landscaped ‘green street’, an array of roof-mounted photovoltaic panels and the attainment of a BREEAM ‘Excellent’ environmental standard.
Working with Broadland District Council and preferred contractor Willmott Dixon, Summers-Inman’s role included scheduling and managing the risk register, monitoring the quality of construction work on site, witnessing tests and inspections to ensure compliance, assisting with post tender clarifications, commercial management throughout construction including variations and instructions to ensure the client obtained value for money and providing cost reports throughout.
A spirit of partnership working
From the start of the project, the Summers-Inman team brought a spirit of partnership working with all stakeholders to develop a truly collaborative working environment, seeking to understand the goals and objectives of the client from the outset.
The approach adopted included a commitment to providing:
• An effective communication plan – both oral and written
• Clear, accurate and timely communications
• Proactive participation at workshops and meetings
• The schedule of information that was developed enabled project deliverables to be met
• Ensuring compliance to auditable processes and procedures.
Commenting on the project, Ian Griffiths, Group Managing Director of Summers-Inman, said: “The Broadland Food Innovation Centre for SMEs and start ups is offering the optimum environment for innovation and growth, combining bespoke facilities, specialist support, cluster membership and a community of like-minded businesses on the Food Enterprise Park near Norwich.
“This was a fantastic project for Summers-Inman to be involved in and we are delighted we were able to work so effectively with Broadland District Council and Willmott Dixon to bring in the project on time and budget.
“Summers-Inman has significant experience working across the food and beverage sector and not only is this a great scheme for the local area, but it represents an investment in the future of the industry overall. The new centre will allow companies to collaborate and that can only mean accelerated growth and shared opportunities for the sector.”
Recently open for business, the Broadland Food Innovation Centre can offer the optimum environment for innovation and growth – its bespoke facilities, specialist support, cluster membership and a community of like-minded businesses being ideally placed to help support those who are debating their next move.
The experienced business growth team, for example, is providing bespoke advice and guidance including access to specialist consultants with projects and consultants being matched via a dynamic purchasing system whereby consultants are invited to apply on a continuous basis.
Through this process, business owners have the chance to benefit from 12 hours of funded innovation support to help meet the challenge of knowing how to make the right decisions at the right time. This service is provided by project partner Hethel Innovation and forms one part of the whole Broadland Food Innovation Centre project.
Such support also helps food and beverage operators to develop the optimum support package for meeting their goals by working with the centre’s food adviser on the priorities to overcome, their challenges and how to access new opportunities by developing new products, gain market insight and review their strategies, for example.
Others may be keen to seek technical support for topics such as shelf life, process improvement or website development, and if they qualify, then the project’s £250,000 grant funding can be utilised to connect them with consultants and experts to provide focused pieces of support.
The resulting emerging cluster in Norfolk and Suffolk, managed by project partner the University of East Anglia, is beginning to link organisations interested in the commercial benefits of food innovation and the future of food and is welcoming members who are engaged with the food supply chain in the UK or internationally and focused on building resilience through innovation.
Jo Copplestone, Portfolio Holder at Broadland District Council, said: “We were delighted with the way this innovative project went – the team was well coordinated and organised throughout the delivery programme.
“We are wholly committed to creating jobs in the region and helping to facilitate growth. The new centre will not only enhance product testing and increase local agricultural output, but it also has all the makings of being able to create a firm basis for expansion of the food and beverage industry, which is very exciting.”
The project received £5.7m of funding from the European Regional Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth programme 2014-2020.
It was also supported by New Anglia Enterprise Partnership, which contributed £4.14m – £2.7m from HM Government Getting Building Fund and £1.44m from the New Anglia LEP Growing Places Fund.
The balance of funds and resources come from Broadland District Council, the University of East Anglia and Hethel Innovation, along with support from City College Norwich and Quadram Institute.