Exciting high-tech projects will create thousands of new jobs in Derby.

Total investment of £300m includes food campus ‘SmartParc’ to put Derby city and the UK at the heart of sustainable food manufacturing globally.

The Government has agreed to provide £12m in funding to help launch a revolutionary high-tech food manufacturing campus in Derby, which will create up to 4,500 jobs. It will also provide an additional £6.85m to establish a manufacturing research centre in the city, generating 70 new roles and helping scores of local companies to access cutting-edge expertise to grow their operations in low-carbon and other advanced technologies.

Both initiatives form part of a recovery strategy to help reboot Derby’s economy after the coronavirus crisis. It is built on three key pillars – maintaining confidence, diversification and decarbonisation – and was described as “inspiring” by the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, Robert Jenrick, when he visited the city last month. News of today’s funding allocation was hailed by city leaders as a “massive boost”.

Central to it is money to help secure a huge new £300m high-tech food manufacturing and distribution campus in the city, to be developed and operated by SmartParc on 140 acres of the former Celanese site near Spondon.The company’s revolutionary approach would bring food producers together to cluster knowledge and investment – reducing food waste, lowering carbon outputs and increasing UK food security.

The campus would include a shared energy plant, designed to reduce energy consumption by 30 per cent, and would harness the latest technology to improve production and efficiency, lowering costs by 20 per cent. It will embrace the latest scientific developments, such as vertical farming – where crops are grown indoors in stacked layers, mitigating the vagaries of the weather and eliminating the need for pesticides. A central distribution facility will allow manufacturers to consolidate both raw materials and finished goods, improving efficiency and lowering food miles.

As well as creating up to 4,500 direct jobs, the project would generate further employment in the supply chain and throughout the local region. Work will start in the first quarter of 2021 and a planned opening, with initial occupancy, will take place later that year. Full project realisation is expected by 2024.

SmartParc chief executive Jackie Wild said she was delighted to be able to develop the project in Derby.

 “SmartParc is part of a £300m investment to put Derby city and the UK at the heart of the future of sustainable food manufacturing globally.

 “The planned SmartParc campus will combine world-class food production facilities with shared utilities, amenities and services to provide a highly sustainable, low-cost production base for food manufacturers and new ways to reach end customers while reducing food miles and food waste.

 “It will also act as a community hub, with a new food innovation centre and skills facility and planned partnerships with local charities, schools and universities to reconnect people with the food they eat.

 “We are delighted to receive Government backing for our ambition and look forward to working with Derby City Council, local universities, businesses and communities to share our vision and deliver up to 4,500 new jobs in the area over the coming years,” she said.

Derby City Council Leader Chris Poulter said the Government’s funding commitment was a huge vote of confidence in the city’s economic recovery strategy. 

“Throughout the past four months we have been doing all we can to support existing businesses but also looking at opportunities for the future – to diversify our economy, to improve our environmental credentials and to make Derby a brilliant place to live and work.

 “Today’s announcement is a massive boost for those plans and we look forward to working with our partners to deliver these fantastic new projects.”