Get £600k for sustainable food and drink ideas  - Fruit & Vine

£600k funding available for food and drink innovations

Businesses with innovative ideas on how to sustainably improve operations within the fresh produce, food and drink supply chain can receive a share of £600,000. 

GrowUp vertical farm in Sandwich, Kent, photo by Growing Kent & Medway.

The Business Sustainability Challenge, hosted by Growing Kent & Medway, will award funding of up to £50,000 for innovative ideas, processes, or technologies that support sustainable production, products and packaging solutions.  

The funders are particularly interested in projects that create circular economies in the horticulture and plant-based food and drink supply chain. 

The seven winners of the first edition of the challenge were awarded a share of more than £262,000 in 2023. The projects focused on a range of issues, from repurposing fruit and vegetable waste to improving water efficiency and reducing carbon emissions with next-generation technology. 

Leading region 

The winners also showcased their ideas on how to reduce the impact of food and drink production systems on the environment while,  at the same time, adding value for their businesses and customers. 

Dr Nikki Harrison, director for Growing Kent & Medway, said: “The South East is fast becoming the leading region for food innovation in the UK. This is a testament to the remarkable achievements and ambitions of our horticultural growers, and food and drink businesses.  

“Our previous winners of the Business Sustainability Challenge have demonstrated that innovation not only drives growth but also creates new markets and revenue streams in the region.” 

Mushroom project 

One of the participants, Canterbury Brewers & Distillers Ltd, received over £13,000 to develop a new system that uses their waste grains, energy, water, and carbon dioxide from their brewing process, to produce speciality mushrooms.  

Mushrooms growing from wastewater, grain, CO2 and energy at Canterbury Brewers & Distillers, photo by Growing Kent & Medway.

Its director, Jon Mills, said: “After building a heat recovery system that heats our restaurant and bar from waste heat during the distillation process, I realised we could potentially use all our waste from our production of whiskey, beer and gin making.  

“The Growing Kent & Medway Business Sustainability grant has allowed us to prove that we can be growing more than 100 kg of speciality mushrooms from our brewing waste. We are excited to see what further success our very own circular economy can have with the potential to bring new mushroom spirits to market.” 

This grant scheme aims for high-impact, short-term innovative projects, and encourages collaborations. Successful applicants will need to match-fund 50% of the total project cost. The grant scheme is not for capital projects. 

Growing Kent & Medway will be hosting an online briefing on Friday 1st March 2024 for anyone interested in applying for the grant. Register here.  

Further information about the Business Sustainability Challenge can be found online.

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