A £12 million cash boost from the government will go towards building a massive state of the art food manufacturing “campus” in Derby, which will include vertical farming.
The government has also agreed to provide £6.85m to establish a manufacturing research centre, helping local food companies access expertise to grow their operations with low carbon and advanced technologies.
Derby city officials described the funding as a “massive boost” to its economy, following the coronavirus pandemic, with thousands of jobs to be created by the investment.
The new 140 acre food campus will be developed and operated by SmartParc, and will bring producers together to cluster knowledge, reduce waste, lower carbon outputs and boost UK food security.
SmartParc chief executive Jackie Wild said she was delighted to be able to develop the project in Derby.
“SmartParc is part of a £300m investment to put Derby city and the UK at the heart of the future of sustainable food manufacturing globally.
“The planned SmartParc campus will combine world-class food production facilities with shared utilities, amenities and services to provide a highly sustainable, low-cost production base for food manufacturers and new ways to reach end customers while reducing food miles and food waste.
“It will also act as a community hub, with a new food innovation centre and skills facility and planned partnerships with local charities, schools and universities to reconnect people with the food they eat.
“We are delighted to receive Government backing for our ambition and look forward to working with Derby City Council, local universities, businesses and communities to share our vision and deliver up to 4,500 new jobs in the area over the coming years,” she said.
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, before its full completion in 2024.
Pauline Latham, MP for Mid Derbyshire said: "The news of SmartParc’s investment and the significant government support of £12m is a huge boost for the local economy.
"I have been lobbying government to back this scheme to develop the Celanese site opposite my office in Spondon and I am delighted that ministers have listened and appreciated that Derby will be at the forefront of the post-Covid economic recovery.
"It is a fantastic endorsement for Derby and our brilliant workforce.”