Partners celebrate progress of unique Aberdeen City Region Deal industry growth project

26/03/2024
ONE SeedPod Topping Out

The new ONE SeedPod industry innovation hub for north east Scotland’s £2.4 billion food manufacturing sector marks a major construction milestone today.

The project partners celebrated the “topping out”, or highest point, of the new build on the outskirts of Aberdeen.

ONE SeedPod will offer a range of benefits to ambitious businesses in the food and drink sector. It provides a platform to scale production in food-grade manufacturing units, develop new products and processes in the NPD kitchen and pilot plant, and showcase their products online and in person in the demo kitchen. Additionally, it offers a vibrant community for entrepreneurs, founders, and business leaders to connect and access tailored support to accelerate growth.

The 30,000 square foot new-build is in its main construction phase and is scheduled to open in 2025.

Opportunity North East (ONE) is leading and co-funding the Aberdeen City Region Deal (ACRD) project, with substantial funding from the UK Government, Scottish Government, Scottish Enterprise, and the Just Transition Fund. Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) is the strategic partner, providing the serviced site for ONE SeedPod on its Craibstone Campus near Aberdeen.

Sir Ian Wood, chair of ONE, David Kilshaw, chair of Food Hub (NES) Ltd, Stanley Morrice, chair of the food, drink and agriculture board at ONE and ONE CEO Jennifer Craw were joined at ONE SeedPod by John Lamont, UK Government Minister for Scotland, Gillian Martin, Scottish Government Minister for Energy, Just Transition and Fair Work, Professor Jamie Newbold, Provost & Deputy Principal of SRUC, Paul Duthie, Land and Property Project Manager at Scottish Enterprise, Councillor Ian Yuill, Vice-chair of the ACRD Joint Committee and Co-Leader of Aberdeen City Council, and John McHardy, Business Development Director, Robertson Group, to commemorate the construction milestone.

A ceremonial brick was prepared to ensure the success of the building in line with industry tradition with symbolic ingredients added to the brick mould. Oil represents liberty and prosperity, corn, to enable the property to ripen in abundance, salt for purity, wine to represent hospitality and wisdom, and yew branches for longevity and renewal.

Sir Ian Wood, chair of ONE, said: “The Aberdeen City Region Deal was the first of its kind with a vision to diversify our economy by investing in key sector innovation and growth. Food and drink is this region’s biggest industry after energy, employing 22,000 people, and the UK’s largest manufacturing sector. ONE and the project partners are investing in the growth potential of new and established businesses. We celebrate a milestone in the build today and look ahead to ONE SeedPod becoming the focal point for practical growth support to the sector.”

David Kilshaw chairs Food Hub (NES) Ltd, the not-for-profit created to develop the capital project. He said: “ONE SeedPod is a unique home for the entrepreneurial ecosystem that provides ambitious businesses with commercial facilities, sector expertise, growth support and industry connections under one roof. It is where businesses will scale production, develop new products and processes, and showcase their products. The region’s ambitious community of entrepreneurs, founders and business leaders will meet and share ideas and inspiration, and access tailored support to accelerate growth and create new, high-skill jobs.”

The project partners highlighted the significance of the project to the sector and to diversifying the region’s economy.

UK Government Minister for Scotland John Lamont said: “It was a pleasure to visit ONE SeedPod to mark this significant milestone on the journey to levelling up the region and Scotland more broadly. I can’t wait to see the food and drink innovation hub up and running as it will help boost the local and national economy. The UK Government is backing the facility with £5 million investment – part of our £125 million commitment to the Aberdeen City Region Deal. In total we are investing more than £3 billion to level up across Scotland.”

Scottish Government Energy, Just Transition and Fair Work Minister Gillian Martin said: “The food and drink industry is a major contributor to our economy, including rural and island communities, with £15 billion turnover and supporting around 129,000 jobs. This is another major step towards completion of a centre for innovation in the North East and across Scotland. More than £8 million Scottish Government funding through our Just Transition Fund and the City Deal will help growth and create jobs. This development of demonstration kitchens, food manufacturing units and collaboration spaces can support one of our most important sectors and build a fair, green and growing economy.”

Adrian Gillespie, Chief Executive of Scottish Enterprise, said: “This is a welcome milestone in the development of ONE SeedPod, which will provide the ecosystem, infrastructure and expertise to maximise opportunities for Scotland’s top international export sector – food and drink. Creating and nurturing more innovative Scottish start-ups and scale-ups is vital to achieving the economic transformation we are targeting.”

Professor Jamie Newbold, Provost & Deputy Principal of Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC), said: “The North East of Scotland has long had a thriving local food and drink sector and we are delighted to be working with Opportunity North East on SeedPod. We are excited to mark the next stage in its development and look forward to working with ONE and other businesses to grow the size and value of the region’s food and drink sector.”

Outgoing ACRD Joint Committee chair Councillor Anne Stirling said: “Food and drink is one of the sectors in which the North east of Scotland already has a strong reputation. The intention behind the investment in ONE Seedpod was to continue to drive that reputation even further into the future. This innovation hub for manufacturing and production will ensure that the latest technology and sustainability practises have their roots here in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire, and we remain on the international food and drink map. It is expected to also have a knock-on impact on the wider Scottish food and drink reputation, and we are more than happy to be leading the way.”

Aberdeen City Council Co-Leader Councillor Ian Yuill said: “The ONE SeedPod food manufacturing hub is a perfect example of what can be achieved when the public and private sectors come together to drive innovation and growth. The North East is already home to some of the finest produce in the UK, and of course the keenest business and scientific minds. The hub promises to be a game-changer for the food and drink sector in the North East, harnessing that expertise to help start-ups and established companies alike. Its launch next year will mark another important milestone in diversifying our economy.”

Elliot Robertson, Chief Executive Officer, Robertson Group, said: “As the strategic partner of choice in the delivery of ONE SeedPod, Robertson fully supports the steps being taken in the diversification and transformation of the Aberdeen city region economy. The quality of the building is a reflection of the high reputation that the area has for its food and drink sector and will become a focal point for innovation and creativity. With over 22,000 people regionally employed in the sector, there’s a great wealth of experience and knowledge that will benefit the aspirations of ONE as it continues its important role in securing an alternative economic future for Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire.”

Key figures in the region’s food manufacturing sector welcomed the progress of ONE SeedPod.

Bill Dean, Managing Director of Dean’s of Huntly, said: “ONE Seedpod will be another key milestone within the food and drink sector here in the north east. Our region has been a leading light for the industry for many decades. The ONE Seedpod Innovation hub will play vital part in encouraging collaboration and growing an exceptional and innovative food and drink sector here in our region.”

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