£10 million Capital Funding Confirmed for Centre of Excellence for Food and Drink Industry

The creation of a food and drink development hub in north east Scotland has secured £10 million of capital funding from the UK Government and Scottish Government, it was announced today by Opportunity North East (ONE). The funding, secured through the Aberdeen City Region Deal, is the single largest public sector investment in the food and drink industry in Scotland.

The announcement was made to an industry audience at Dean’s of Huntly in Aberdeenshire where the new brand for the hub - SeedPod – was revealed along with the appointment of Glasgow-based Keppie Design Limited as architect and lead consultant.

The Aberdeen City Region Deal is a partnership between Aberdeen City Council, Aberdeenshire Council, ONE, UK Government and Scottish Government.

SeedPod is due to open in 2022 and is an investment of £21 million in the sector’s growth, including £4.4 million of funding from ONE. SeedPod is the third major sector-specific innovation hub project being delivered via the Aberdeen City Region Deal. SeedPod will be a new-build facility, located on Scotland’s Rural College’s (SRUC) campus close to Aberdeen International Airport and the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route. It will be the centre of excellence for nurturing and growing food and drink businesses in north east Scotland.

SeedPod will provide the tools, knowledge and training to help fledgling and established companies to identify new markets, drive growth and adopt leading edge production technologies, rapidly increasing profitability and capitalising upon the region’s assets and collaborative links. It will also create an innovative environment for the development of products that meet burgeoning consumer demand for novel food types, emerging trends and alternative proteins, driving the sustainability agenda.

Councillor Jenny Laing, Vice-Chair of Aberdeen City Region Deal Joint Committee and Co-Leader, Aberdeen City Council, said: “Today’s announcement of £10million capital funding towards the creation of a Food Hub, a project which is part of Aberdeen City Region Deal is fantastic news.

“The vision is to establish a £21million Food Hub, which will be a go-to regional centre for the accelerated growth of businesses, inspiring ambition and providing essential support for the Food and Drink industry. Its success will see Aberdeen as a beacon for both the UK and international Food and Drink industries.

“Since the Aberdeen City Region Deal was signed in 2016, the partnership has gone from strength to strength. Today’s announcement is yet another notable milestone and shows how the public and private sectors can work together to identify and develop projects that will contribute to our region’s future prosperity.”

Patrick Machray OBE, Chair of the ONE Food, Drink & Agriculture sector board and Food Hub (NES) Limited, the new company formed to deliver the SeedPod project, said:

“ONE’s ambition with industry is to grow the sector in the region by 5% per annum, doubling outputs and exports by 2030. SeedPod will deliver this ambition by building upon ONE’s existing food, drink and agriculture activity and driving further engagement, growth and innovation. It will be the go-to place for evolving existing businesses, inspire and develop the next generation of producers in the region, and deliver national impacts for the sector.”

Growing the food and drink industry is an economic priority for Scotland and the UK. SeedPod will build on ONE’s food, drink and agriculture sector activity and existing infrastructure, and integrate with other initiatives within Scotland and the UK including Scotland Food and Drink, Scottish Enterprise, Scottish Development International, Scottish Manufacturing Advisory Service and Skills Development Scotland. It will also be a focal point for connecting businesses with the significant research base in the University of Aberdeen and its Rowett Institute, Robert Gordon University, SRUC and the James Hutton Institute.

UK Government Minister for Scotland, Douglas Ross said: “The UK Government and partners’ £826 million Aberdeen City Region Deal is making a huge difference to the region’s economy and this is one of the many projects we are funding.

“The establishment of a food hub in the north east of Scotland is great news as it will provide expert advice to both new and established companies in how to drive growth for the world-leading Scottish food and drink industry.

“The UK Government is investing more than £1.4 billion to City Region and Growth Deals across Scotland – with more to come. This is helping to create thousands of jobs and opportunities as we bring sustainable growth and prosperity to every part of the country.”

Richard Lochhead, Minister for Further Education, Higher Education and Science, Scottish Government, said: “This new Agri-Food & Drink Hub reiterates the Scottish Government’s commitment to investing in Aberdeen and the north east, and enhancing the region’s already enviable reputation as one of the country’s richest larders in terms of quality produce.

“We and the UK Government are both investing £5 million in the facility, which begins construction this year. Part of our wider £125 million investment in the Aberdeen City Region Deal, the hub’s opening marks a key stage in an already-strong partnership between industry and academic institutions in the area, including our two Aberdeen universities and the Rural College.

“Our vision is that hub will appeal to ambitious businesses that need to develop and commercialise their products. I am certain its opening will spark opportunities for business to grow by offering guidance on just the types of leadership development and technical management skills, for instance, which can drive the Scottish food and drink industry forward, and increase its contribution to the overall economy.”

Councillor Jim Gifford, Chair of Aberdeen City Region Deal Joint Committee and Leader of Aberdeenshire Council, said: “Our achievements in the food and drink sector speak for themselves. It’s significance to our local and national economy is huge, and that is why the Food Hub is sure to be a great asset for our region and the country overall.

“It will maximise the opportunity from existing research and development expertise in the universities and research institutes. It will identify opportunities in sustainable agriculture and nutrition for commercial product development and innovation. It will place a strong focus on the agriculture supply chain, provenance, and healthy eating, as well as being a flagship project for Scotland’s Food and Drink industry.

“We look forward to watching this exciting project develop as we continue work on the other key projects of the Aberdeen City Region Deal.”

Professor Wayne Powell, Principal and Chief Executive of SRUC said: “We are delighted that the SeedPod is to be co-located on our campus at Craibstone. This new building marks the start of an exciting future for SRUC in Aberdeen. We’re looking forward to collaborating with ONE and all the partners to realise the ambitions of the SeedPod to grow the food and drink sector in North East of Scotland and across the whole of the country.”


  • The group from L-R: Patrick Machray OBE, Chair of the ONE Food, Drink & Agriculture sector board and Food Hub (NES) Limited; Richard Lochhead, MSP; Minister for Further Education, Higher Education & Science, Scottish Government; Neil Freckingham, ONE Food Hub Director; Jennnifer Craw, Chief Executive Officer, Opportunity North East; Councillor Jenny Laing, Vice Chair of Aberdeen City Region Deal Joint Committee and Co-Leader of Aberdeen City Council; Professor Wayne Powell, Principal and Chief Executive, Scotland's Rural College; Douglas Ross MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Scotland, UK Government; Councillor Jim Gifford, Chair of Aberdeen City Region Deal Joint Committee and Leader of Aberdeenshire Council; Bill Dean, Managing Director, Dean's of Huntly.
  • Councillor Jenny Laing, Vice-Chair of Aberdeen City Region Deal Joint Committee and Co-Leader, Aberdeen City Council; Patrick Machray OBE, Chair of the ONE Food, Drink & Agriculture sector board and Food Hub (NES) Limited; and Neil Freckingham, Director, ONE Food Hub.