Over £110 million boost to the Welsh food and drink industry thanks to Project HELIX

A new report published this week shows that Project HELIX, an initiative developed to boost innovation and efficiency in the Welsh food and drink industry, has already had an impact of over £110 million, since its launch three years ago.

Using state of the art manufacturing facilities, the scheme has provided technical support and bespoke training that’s helped develop hundreds of new products, helped businesses innovate and be more productive, improve skills and reduce waste in the supply chain.

The Welsh Government and EU-funded Project HELIX is a pan-Wales strategic initiative, delivered by Food Innovation Wales, which is a partnership of three food centres based in North, Mid/West and South Wales.

To date Project HELIX has delivered clear benefits to the sector including:

  • 298 jobs created and a further 1302 safeguarded
  • 156 new businesses supported
  • 276 enterprises assisted
  • 241 new markets accessed, and
  • 366 new products developed

Commenting on this success, Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths, said:

“The success of Project HELIX shows how collaboration between academia, industry experts, government and producers on the ground can make such a big difference.

“A £110 million boost, new jobs created and others safeguarded, new products developed, new businesses launched, a more skilled workforce – all this is helping to further enhance Wales’s great and growing reputation in the international food and drink industry.

“As we prepare for the challenges Brexit will bring, innovation is making the food and drink industry more resilient and it plays a key role in our Welsh success story. I would urge producers and manufacturers to explore what support is available through Project HELIX and how its expertise and advanced technical facilities can be of benefit to them.”

Businesses who’ve already received support from Project HELIX include Boss Brewery, and Sarah John from the brewery said,

“The assistance we’ve received has been instrumental in helping us achieve SALSA accreditation, a key stepping stone in our journey as a beverage manufacturer. They mentored, guided, and trained us through the entire process, all of which was invaluable to us as a company.”

Peter Rice of Prima Foods added,

“Without the support we’ve received, the business would have taken so much longer to fulfil the demands of becoming a second-tier supplier to multiple retailers and blue-chip businesses. The advice, collaborative staff development and the depth of support available has allowed Prima to do what it does best with confidence and security.”

The latest figures come hot on the heels of the announcement that Food Innovation Wales has become a network partner of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) Food, Europe’s leading food innovation initiative. Supported by Welsh Government funding, this will establish a dedicated EIT Food presence in Wales, linking the Welsh industry to a wider consortium of key industry players, start-ups, research centres and universities from across Europe.

Professor David Lloyd, on behalf of Food Innovation Wales, expressed his delight at the latest figures,

“By championing innovation, efficiency and a strategic approach to business, Project HELIX has been able to make a significant impact within Wales’s food and drink sector, creating and safeguarding jobs across the country.

“The food and drink sector is vital to Wales’s economy and the continued collaboration between Welsh Government, academia and manufacturers will help the sector to innovate and prosper in the years ahead.”

Over the course of the next 12 months and beyond, Food Innovation Wales will continue to support Welsh food and drink business to grow profitably through innovation by developing new products and markets; provide the Welsh food and drink industry with access to world leading innovation; deliver the Project HELIX outputs and support the Welsh Government with world-class facilities and expertise to provide a landscape in which food and drink companies can prosper.