Posted 7 April 2022
Harper Adams University Vice-Chancellor Professor Ken Sloan and Business Development Manager Clare Keegan met a range of businesses at the networking evening.
Harper Adams University has hosted its first networking evening for tenants of the Newport Innovation Park (NI.PARK) and the Agri EPI Centre West Midlands hub.
Agri EPI, on the Harper Adams campus, exists to inspire and support the development of engineering and solutions for agri-tech in the agricultural and food sector. Tenants can use the facilities and Agri EPI networks to develop their knowledge and products – working on and close to research at the cutting edge of agri-tech.
And just outside of the nearby town of Newport, NI.PARK houses a range of industrial units, comprising an agri-tech research and innovation hub. Tenants benefit, among other advantages, from knowledge exchange with Harper Adams University and project partners.
Representatives of the businesses benefiting from both venues were invited for an innovation evening with Harper Adams University on the university campus.
The guests were welcomed by University Vice-Chancellor, Professor Ken Sloan, before taking part in round table discussions.
These were followed by opportunities to learn about how they could tap into the pipeline of new talent emerging from and with the university – via undergraduate and postgraduate degrees, apprenticeships, research studentships, and student placements.
Before further round-tables and networking, the guests enjoyed hearing about innovation projects and funding opportunities from Harper Adams Business Development Manager Clare Keegan and Liz Wakeham-Jones of Enterprise Telford.
Clare said: “After years in planning with Telford and Wrekin Council it was great to see us all come together for this inaugural evening of sharing and learning. The team from the council and DIT talked about funding and innovation and we all explored how we could help these businesses with skills and support in our sector. There are great meetings to follow and another event already planned at NI.PARK in the Summer”.
The newest tenant to move on to NI.PARK is industrial food processing manufacturer Provisur. The US-founded firm has chosen the Newport site as its UK base and to deliver the pressing and slicing side of its business operations because of its Midlands location and agri-tech links within the food industry.
Provisur has headquarters in Chicago, Illinois, with a global network of sales and service locations and helps customers deliver value through new product applications, advanced hygiene design, labour-saving automation techniques and more.
The key areas of the business focus on developing food processing equipment and solutions for grinding, mixing, forming, cooking and freezing, form pressing, slicing and sliced product handling.
Provisur were given the green light to open a UK-based entity due to Brexit import issues and also business growth within the UK which meant the business required extra office and spare parts storage space.
Aaron Hale, Provisor Account Manager Slicing UK & Ireland, was influential in the move to NI.PARK.
Aaron was home-based in Telford during the pandemic and was tasked with shortlisting appropriate UK premises for the firm to locate to which could be assessed by Provisur European Vice President Thomas Neher. Aaron said: “We looked at a number of possibilities for the UK base but the unit at NI.PARK was shortlisted because of its central location, the excellent units it offers on site and its links with Harper Adams University.
“The company believed that being located in the Midlands in the heart of the UK was the best solution which is why we opted for this base.
“We’re really pleased to have the keys to NI.PARK and are looking forward to integrating into the NI.PARK community now this space is our new UK home.”
Phase One of the NI.PARK project has been delivered by Telford and Wrekin Council and offers a range of new sustainable employment units on the site.
Aaron added: “We’re also looking forward to developing further links with Harper Adams University who have helped to deliver NI.PARK and strengthening our links with agri-tech businesses.”