A new networking group is bringing together small and medium sized enterprises in the region to help them develop their businesses. With one event already under its belt, and another coming soon, AGRI Project Project Officer Melissa Sambrook explains more about the group, how it has helped businesses – and how you can get involved.
Harper Adams University’s AGRI Project and Regional Food Academy departments have teamed up with Shropshire Food and Drink to create the ‘Shropshire Food for Thought’ Networking Group.
Shropshire Food and Drink is the brainchild of Harper Adams alumna Beth Heath – owner of Shropshire Festivals and Chair of Visit Shropshire and the Shropshire Business Board.
She said: “We're on a mission to help the county's food and drink businesses to flourish – marketing them to the world, giving issues in the sector a platform to be solved on, enabling businesses to work together for change, and putting Shropshire on the map for top food and drink products and experiences.
The Food for Thought group holds a regular networking event which is focused on helping food and drink producers, chefs, farm shop owners and small to medium food businesses get advice and support, to enable everyone to grow, evolve and collaborate.
The first event was held this spring, and saw VIP’s including members of the Shropshire Council, WiRE (Women in Rural Enterprise) and the Agri Project to give advice to the attending businesses. Visitors were able to see the different uses of the RFA building during a facilities tour, which included demonstrations in the Food Testing Room and Sensory Evaluation Room. Two Shropshire food companies, Butterbelle – run by Harper Adams alumna and Entrepreneur in Residence Zoe Harrison - and Nanny’s Craft Bakery showcased their products.
Eric Siquerios, Innovation Manage for the AGRI Project, said: “The Food for Thought event hosted at Harper Adams University was a fantastic opportunity to catch up with companies that we have worked and a great way to meet new local businesses interested in getting support.”
Sarah Meredith from Life of Riley, who attended the event, said: ‘We found the Food for Thought event to be a brilliant opportunity, not only to network with other small local business’s but also to see what opportunities we can have for help, from the AGRI Project team, we had a fab tour that showed us the various options and equipment available to us and were able to ask questions and discuss.
“As always the AGRI Project team were on hand before and afterwards for guidance and helpful advice – they have always been so proactive at suggestions and are so friendly and approachable.’
Beth said: “We created the Food for Thought networking event to bring the local sector together, face to face. As businesses, we can only get stronger by evolving, and the best way to do that is to break down the barriers holding us back, stay informed on the latest innovations, learn from our peers and increase our connections to grow our sales. We wanted to make all of this possible at Food for Thought.
“It was fantastic to see the cream of the crop of local food and drink business owners come together at the impressive facilities at Harper Adams University.”
The second networking event is currently being organised and will be held at the Regional Food Academy at Harper Adams University. This event will focus on supporting SME’s with marketing their products including promoting on social media and websites, using marketing apps and improving photographs – so watch this space!
To find out more about the event contact firstname.lastname@example.org