Partners welcome greenlight for transformational SeedPod growth project

The creation of the SeedPod hub for food and drink industry growth on the outskirts of Aberdeen will move ahead at pace after it received planning approval.

Thursday, May 20, 2021
Led by Opportunity North East, SeedPod will put the region's businesses at the forefront of innovation, productivity and sustainability, increasing high-value exports and creating new jobs. It will drive green economic recovery, low-carbon food production and contribute to net-zero goals.

The project’s planning application was today (20 May 2021) approved by Aberdeen City Council’s planning development management committee.

The £21 million investment – backed by the Aberdeen City Region Deal and funders the UK Government, Scottish Government and Opportunity North East – will create the go-to centre of excellence that will deliver industry’s regional and national growth ambitions. It will inspire market-led innovation in products, manufacturing, processing and packaging and support skills and people development across the supply chain. It will also provide specialist facilities for high-growth new businesses to nurture their development.

Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) is a strategic partner in the project. SeedPod will be located on its Craibstone campus and is due to open in 2022.

Patrick Machray OBE, chair of Food Hub (NES) Limited and vice-chair of Opportunity North East, said: “The project partners are delighted that SeedPod has received the necessary planning approval so that we can proceed at pace with final procurement and construction.

“Food and drink is the UK’s largest manufacturing sector, turns over £2.2 billion in north east Scotland every year and already provides more than 22,000 jobs in the region. It is our largest industry after energy. Its growth is critical to our economic future as it can deliver more and higher-value jobs, increase exports of premium products to high-margin markets and play a key role in the drive to a low-carbon economy.

"SeedPod will be the sector’s go-to place to deliver business growth, create new employment and fast-track the next generation of entrepreneurial start-ups. Its facilities, programmes and the global consumer insights it will provide will make the region’s businesses leaders in foods of the future innovation, high-value manufacturing and low-carbon food production and support industry growth nationally," said Mr Machray.

Wayne Powell, principal and chief executive of SRUC, said: “This latest milestone is great news for SeedPod, the north east of Scotland and the development of SRUC’s campus in Aberdeen. We are excited to be working with SeedPod as neighbours and partners to help grow the economy.”

Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Economy Kate Forbes said: “The Scottish Government is a full partner in the Aberdeen City Region City Deal, contributing £125 million over 10 years. The investment in this project through the Deal will contribute to the region’s economic recovery by creating jobs, and providing the commercial infrastructure to support and attract businesses to Aberdeen and the surrounding areas.

“Projects like SeedPod highlight the importance of this Deal and demonstrates the ability to provide support to the northeast food and drink industry and diversify the regional economy.”

UK Government Minister for Scotland, Iain Stewart, said: "SeedPod is a great example of the UK and Scottish Governments working together with regional partners to bring new jobs and opportunities to communities across north east Scotland.

"This new hub will play a leading role in supporting innovation and growth in Scotland’s iconic food and drink sector as it expands into new markets.

“The UK Government is investing more than £1.5 billion into growth deal projects across Scotland that will help us to build back better from the pandemic."

Councillor Andy Kille, chair of the Aberdeen City Region Deal Joint Committee, said: “Food and drink is a major industry and employer in north east Scotland with a critical role to play in economic recovery and growth. SeedPod – supported by the Aberdeen City Region Deal – will provide facilities, resources and tools for businesses of all sizes to grow, create new jobs and opportunities for the region’s people and communities.”

Councillor Jenny Laing, vice-chair of the Aberdeen City Region Deal Joint Committee, said: “Food and drink manufacturing is a key part of our economy, providing thousands of jobs across the city and region. The City Region Deal support for SeedPod means that businesses will be able to access industry-leading facilities, expertise, insights and networks in Aberdeen to realise their growth ambitions. That will create new employment and opportunities in our diversifying economy and make us a leading location for industry innovation, which will help to attract new investment.”

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