Construction began today on what will become an industry-leading food engineering research centre.
Sheffield Hallam University's National Centre of Excellence for Food Engineering is set to open next year and sit alongside the Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park (OLP), and an event today marked the start of building work on the site.
Plans for the research-led centre include pilot-scale production facilities, laboratories, workshops and teaching spaces. Work will focus on the application of engineering to improve food processing and addressing an industry-recognised shortage of food engineering expertise.
The centre will play a strategic role in developing advanced engineering capability for the food and drink industry, providing a major competitive advantage to the sector.
The Centre is designed to tackle food industry challenges such as productivity, health, minimising waste and reducing energy use. It will support the food and drink industry by developing new and enhanced facilities, processes and equipment and creating a knowledgeable workforce with experience of leading engineering systems and processes.
Dr Martin Howarth, director of the National Centre of Excellence for Food Engineering, said: "The centre will support the food and drink industry to develop and implement new and enhanced facilities, processes and equipment, to keep the UK at the forefront of capability and efficiency in a very competitive sector.
"It will also enhance the development of a highly educated and knowledgeable workforce, through staff development and supporting employees with experience of leading engineering systems and processes.
"This project builds on our existing strong track record of providing excellent research and knowledge transfer, and of working in partnership with industry to develop education programmes that are designed to support companies by creating highly skilled and employable graduates, ready for the world of work."
Keith Thornhill, Food and Beverage Sector Head UK and Ireland’ at Siemens and chairman of the Industry Advisory Board for the Centre, said: "We are delighted to be a part of this ambitious project and look forward to ensuring that the Centre is a leading light for research and innovation in the food and drink sector."
Sheffield Hallam University is a driver of economic growth, addressing long-term challenges, attracting investment and narrowing the skills gap within the region and beyond.
Home to the UK’s largest modern business school and working with around 2,000 large and small employers every year, its students, industrial partnerships and research help businesses innovate and succeed.
Reflecting the vocational nature of the University, Sheffield Hallam students undertake over 25,000 placements with employers every year and its talented graduates are a key resource with the necessary skills to help industry grow. The centre, and the associated Master's degree, MEng Food Engineering, have been developed in partnership with the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) and the National Skills Academy for Food and Drink, along with funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).
The new Centre is due to open in summer 2019 and will form part of Sheffield Hallam's Health Innovation Park situated at the heart of the Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park. The Park will co-locate research and innovation alongside education, health, leisure and business. It will be a model of urban development that will drive economic growth, health improvements and community wellbeing.
The construction is being carried out by Yorkshire based contractor BAM. Kelvin Pollard, construction director, said: “We look forward to using our experience and skills to create an industry leading research centre Sheffield can be proud of. Sheffield is a dynamic location for BAM, we have Sheffield Hallam University’s Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre on site just across the road on the Olympic Legacy Park, and not long ago we built Oasis Academy Don Valley and the city’s second University Technical College across there. We pride ourselves on being a strong community player, and look forward to working in partnership with the University.”