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    Sustaining Shropshire project aims to take county's businesses to the next level

    Posted 18 December 2023

    Agri-tech and food and drink businesses across Shropshire are being urged to find out what a newly-launched project can do to help take their work to the next level.

    The Sustaining Shropshire project – which is a partnership between Harper Adams University and the Agri-EPI Centre – is now underway, offering expert support for businesses from across the county which draws upon the years of business and academic support the Centre and University can offer.

    Sustaining Shropshire was launched at a dedicated event at the Harper Adams Food Academy, where interested businesses were able to hear more about how the project can help them innovate, develop new technologies and grow in an environmentally sustainable way.

    At the event, Harper Adams University Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive Officer Professor Ken Sloan explained how Harper Adams made collaboration with local businesses a key part of its work in Shropshire – with the partnerships both informing research at the University and helping boost some of the county’s key sectors.

    With a shared focus on both goals, the Sustaining Shropshire initiative is a valuable resource for businesses in the Shropshire Council area.

    It will offer expert guidance to help them improve their environmental impact while growing their business and is expected to have a significant impact on the local economy, creating new opportunities for businesses in the agri-tech, food and drink industries.

    Business Development Officer for Sustaining Shropshire, Rebecca Greenhalgh, said: “With more than 50 businesses attending on the night – and more already talking to us – Sustaining Shropshire is off to a flying start.

     “The event heard from key experts at Harper Adams – such as the Director of the University’s School of Sustainable Food and Farming Simon Thelwell.  

    “Simon is working with major UK businesses such as M&S, Tesco, and Morrisons, and discussed the importance of sustainability, current trends in the market today and how Shropshire businesses can start their company's sustainability journey. 

    “We understand that first step can be difficult – but we’re able to put you in touch with people who can guide you throughout your journey. Our manager, Dr Eric Siqueiros, was able to tell our guests how we will promote sustainable practises in local businesses – building a more resilient community in the county, which balances economic growth with innovation and environmental stewardship.

    “Meanwhile Rose Judeh-Elwell, the Business Development Director from the Agri-Epi Centre, set out the support available during 2024, when local businesses will be able to attend events throughout the year at the centre to help them construct a business plan and examine the steps they need to grow and be sustainable.”

    During the launch event, three of those small businesses also explained more about the success of their businesses and the support they received from the team. 

    Among those who spoke were Luke Boxall, a worm farmer whose Bridgnorth-based Soil Nurture venture was boosted after working with the team.

    He said: “I cannot tell you how much the support helped my business.  The team took me to look at and sample machinery, which I got to test, and saved me from purchasing machines that were not suitable. 

    “I’m looking to continue my work with them this year - and either expand production or trial a new product.”

    While Sustaining Shropshire may have just launched, it is built upon the foundations of the highly successful Agri-tech Growth and Resources for Innovation (AGRI) project, which helped nearly 150 businesses in Shrosphire and across the West Midlands.

    The full Sustaining Shropshire team is led by Dr Eric Siqueiros, who is supported by three Innovation Specialists, Dr Jane Yardley, Ian Rickuss and Tanya Postles.

    Each specialist has been successfully supporting clients for more than five years to grow sustainable businesses by developing their products, processes or the use of technology.

    They are supported by Project Officer Melissa Sambrook and Business Development Officer Rebecca Greenhalgh – who can be contacted for more information about how Sustaining Shropshire can help your business on 01952 815173.

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