Equipping the next generation of entrepreneurs for success in Scotland’s food & drink sector

By Press Office

An ambitious new collaborative initiative to help the next generation of entrepreneurs achieve success in the food and drink industry has been launched by three Scottish higher education institutions.

The THRIVE initiative aims to attract and develop new talent to support sustainable growth in Scotland’s food and drink sector, addressing a major issue outlined in Scotland Food and Drink Ambition 2030 which states that Scotland must create a renewed culture of innovation in the sector.

This initiative will help students and recent graduates gain a clear understanding of what is required to enter the food and drink sector by learning from both academic and industry professionals. Intensive weekend sessions are designed to help participants gain an understanding of the skills and knowledge they need to start a business in the sector – whether that be offering new food and drink products or a new service to the industry.

Developed by Queen Margaret University, Abertay University and Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC), THRIVE will bring together expertise from all three institutions, as well as external industry professionals. The partners will run intensive online workshops over two weekends in November to help students and graduates gain essential entry level knowledge, as well as the business and technical skills that are necessary to take an idea from concept to product or service development. Importantly, the three institutions will work collaboratively, drawing on their disciplinary strengths to ensure that participants benefit from an outstanding educational experience with access to workshops on new product development; food technology; marketing; business and pitching along with legislation; financial planning; and general business support information.

Miriam Smith, Innovation and Enterprise Manager at Queen Margaret University, said: “This is a really exciting development which responds to the unprecedented economic growth and opportunity for start-ups in the food and drink sector in Scotland. The changing post-Brexit landscape will also bring new opportunities for the development of entrepreneurship in Scotland and across the UK, and we need to ensure we are providing a supportive platform to nurture and grow new talent. By working together our three institutions will draw on multi-disciplinary strengths to address the transformation in the next generation of entrepreneurs going in to food and drink.”

Ceri Ritchie, Principal Consultant at SAC Consulting – part of SRUC, said: “There has never been a better time to capitalise on the growth in local food and drink in Scotland. THRIVE brings together an unprecedented group of experienced individuals with many years of experience of advising and supporting food and drink sector businesses.

“THRIVE supports Scotland Food and Drink Ambition 2030 and further enables Scotland’s food and drink producers and manufacturers to access the world-class support and research base on their doorstep. For innovation to be a pillar of growth across the entire sector, we must create a renewed culture of relentless innovation, and make it easier for all businesses to innovate and to profit from creative approaches. By bringing together a range of expertise from across all three institutions, we can encourage and support new talent to enter the industry, and better equip them for success.”

Dr Jonathan Wilkin, a Senior Lecturer in New Product Development at Abertay University, said: “We are delighted to be bringing our extensive experience in food innovation and new product development to this project.

“The food and drink industry is massively important to Scotland’s economy and finding unique, creative and sustainable ways to produce and promote our nation’s excellent products is vital to the sector’s success.

“The next generation of food and drink entrepreneurs are coming through Scotland’s schools, colleges and universities with bags of enthusiasm, talent and fresh thinking, so it is fantastic that THRIVE is in place to support that.”

THRIVE will be delivered online on 6th and 13th November to students from and recent graduates of Queen Margaret University, Abertay University, and SRUC.

Notes to Editor

THRIVE is supported by the Universities Innovation Fund and the Scottish Funding Council.

For further information contact Lynne Russell, Communications Manager, Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh, E: lrussell@qmu.ac.uk; M: 07711 011239; Graeme Bletcher, PR Manager, Abertay University, g.bletcher@abertay.ac.uk and Rosie Free, Press Officer, Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC); E: Rosie.Free@sruc.ac.uk.

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