The Food Security and Search Alliance, which is also based here complements these growing networks. This organisation works across disciplines and collaborates with institutions with a strong background in relevant areas of research. It also maintains funding relationships with research councils, government departments, and the private sector. The economic successes driven by innovation suggest that Bristol & Bath’s food and drink sector will be at the forefront globally in the coming years.
There are over 4,800 higher education students and more than 600 sector-specific academics working on agricultural studies in the region.
The region is home to two internationally-renowned agricultural institutions: the Royal Agricultural University and Hartpury University. It’s also home to the Rural Enterprise Centre, which is integral to the region’s educational and business growth. Once refurbishments to this centre are completed, it will be the ideal venue for businesses and academics. The centre will feature a conference and seminar area, as well as modern test kitchens and office space for agri-food-related businesses. It will offer a valuable facility to support the development of agricultural business and micro food and drink companies. It will also provide relevant skills training.
The West of England’s agricultural business landscape also comprises a vast network of small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and some of the world’s most iconic names in the agri-food sector, such as LettUs Grow.
LettUs Grow is an award-winning Bristol start-up that develops technology for aeroponics (or growing crops without soil in large vertical racks). The crops include herbs, strawberries, and small trees grown under LED lights with nutrients provided by a mist of water. As light can be tuned to specific plants’ needs, the process is both water- and energy-efficient.
The Food WorksSW is a state-of-the-art food and drink innovation centre located in the heart of the Weston-super-Mare Enterprise Area, near Junction 21 of the M5 motorway. Created by North Somerset Council following feedback from food and drink producers, the centre can help businesses of all kinds - from start-ups to well-established companies - to grow or diversify their product offering.
There is on-site technical support and five development kitchens containing specialist equipment for dairy, bakery, drinks and more. The kitchens are available for short-term hire to test, develop and manufacture products. The centre also includes state-of-the-art accessible meeting rooms, conference facilities and a coffee shop where events can be hosted. Anyone is welcome to book the meeting rooms - businesses do not have to operate in the food and drink sector to book these facilities.