Growing Kent & Medway has awarded a share of over £1.6million to 13 businesses to fund projects that will sustainably transform the horticultural and plant-based food and drink supply chain.
Funded through two separate grants, the projects were selected based on their innovative ideas to tackle some of the big sustainability challenges facing the food and drink industry. From next-generation technology to recycling wastewater to techniques to breed new varieties of fruit, the varied projects will help to reduce the impact of our food production systems on the environment.
The funders were particularly interested in projects that focused on creating circular economies and finding new uses for waste products.
The 'Business Sustainability Challenge' grant offered up to £50,000 to address key sustainability issues and opportunities. Eight winners will share over £287,000 in funding for their short-term, high-impact innovative projects.
Successful applicants include GrowUp Farms, which is boosting water efficiencies of high-care controlled environment horticulture in Kent using new innovative British technology. GrowUp is committed to using fewer resources to produce more food. They are particularly focused on how much water they use. This project will investigate how they can improve their water efficiency, using next-generation technology. It will focus on recovering and reusing their waste water to see if they can take better advantage of using rainwater collected from their roof.
Evogro make personal vertical farms for hospitality operators and homes. They use the same technologies as industrial vertical farms, but scaled down to appliance size. Based in East Malling, Kent, the business provides an integrated system and support service so their customers can grow high-quality crops without needing horticultural expertise. The goal of this project is to develop a novel method of seed delivery suitable to produce microgreens, salad leaves and herbs in vertical farms.
Canterbury Brewers & Distillers are receiving over £13,000 to develop a new system that will produce specialty mushrooms, using the waste grain, water, CO², and energy from their new whiskey production facility.
Dr. Nikki Harrison, Programme Director for Growing Kent & Medway, said: "We are investing in real-world business innovation and research projects that demonstrate how science-led, sustainable innovation can be deployed throughout the supply chain. This not only benefits the environment by helping Kent businesses become more sustainable but also stimulates economic growth. Fresh thinking can help create new revenue streams and new markets from waste by-products and processes.
"While these projects demonstrate the exciting innovation happening in Kent and Medway, we expect the knowledge that is gained to help transform our food systems throughout the sector."
Nim's Fruit Ltd has been awarded over £22,000 to repurpose their fruit and vegetable powders. Founder of Nim's Fruit Ltd, Nimisha Raja MBE, said: "Sustainability is a core principle guiding our actions, and at Nim's, we are proud to have achieved a zero-food waste status within our business. For some time, we've aspired to utilize our by-products to create new products to help consumers reduce food waste at home, but unfortunately, limited financial resources have held us back.
"When we heard about the Business Sustainability Challenge, we jumped at the chance in the hope that, with even partial funding, we could finally put to use the substantial quantity of by-products we've been storing. We are thrilled to be awarded a grant and to embark on this project, which will enable us to establish a fresh revenue stream rooted in 100% sustainable products."
The second of Growing Kent & Medway's grant offer awarded £1.4 million to five businesses for large-scale Collaborative Research and development projects. All the projects will be collaborative with one of the research organizations based in Kent and Medway.
For more information:
Growing Kent & Medway