The development of a Food & Drink Innovation Hub and the potential future Innovation Park on land adjacent to Queen Margaret University has taken a major step forward.
A report to East Lothian Council this week (Tuesday) approved the Joint Venture Structure between East Lothian Council and Queen Margaret University that will take forward the delivery of the plans. Also this week (Wednesday), the Court of the University gave their go ahead for the joint venture.
The first stage of this exciting development, construction of the Food and Drink Innovation Hub, is expected to commence in early 2023 and complete in 2025.
The Hub forms part of the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Deal, a £1.3 billion regional investment programme funded by the UK and Scottish Governments and regional partners including East Lothian Council. The City Deal’s committee approved the plan in June 2021, with the Hub being funded by £28.6 million from UK Government, £1.4 million from the Scottish Government and £10 million from East Lothian Council.
The purpose of the Hub is to focus on food and drink related innovation within the context of health and wellbeing and will include serviced laboratories and office accommodation as well as facilities for events.
Preparatory work has already begun on a new junction off the A1 to improve accessibility and connectivity to and from the Food and Drink Innovation Hub and wider Innovation Park.
East Lothian Council Leader Norman Hampshire said: “This is great news for East Lothian as we move into the recovery phase of the pandemic as it will bring a huge boost in terms of jobs, skills and business development to the area. The Hub and Innovation Park will build on East Lothian’s title of Scotland’s Food & Drink County and help us properly support research, innovation and growth in this important sector.”
Sir Paul Grice, Principal of Queen Margaret University said: “This is great news for East Lothian, and for Scotland’s food and drink sector, especially as it relates to society’s health and wellbeing. The Hub and Innovation Park will aid economic recovery from the impacts of the pandemic by bringing quality jobs and investment to the area, and by supporting an important sector through research, knowledge exchange and skills training. With our joint venture partners East Lothian Council, we look forward to realising our vision of a strategic, sustainable development that will promote inclusive growth.”
Scottish Government Economy Secretary Kate Forbes said: “The Scottish Government’s £300 million investment in the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal will help deliver sustainable jobs across East Lothian and beyond. Good health and wellbeing are crucially important as we recover from the Coronavirus pandemic, so I welcome this major step forward for the Food and Drink Innovation Hub. This will help provide people with the skills they need to gain new opportunities and ensure new and current businesses are supported in investing in innovative ideas.”
UK Government Minister for Scotland Iain Stewart said: "The Food & Drink Innovation Hub will deliver a huge boost to East Lothian, bringing jobs and investment to the area. Scotland has a global reputation for quality food and drink, and our £28.6m investment in this new facility will build upon that. The UK Government is investing more than £1.7 billion into projects across Scotland to level up communities and build back better from the pandemic."