Moulton College’s Food and Drink Innovation Centre was officially opened by food critic and TV personality, William Sitwell.
The centre is now used by students on the college’s further education food production courses, including food science and technology, food operations, health and nutrition, and supporting the many food and drink producers in Northamptonshire.
The centre includes a food technology suite, sensory room and micro-brewery, and is funded by SEMLEP’s Local Growth Fund, which is a public-private partnership set up in 2011 to drive economic growth across the South East Midlands.
Speaking at the event, HM Lord-Lieutenant of Northamptonshire, David Laing said: “Northamptonshire is unknown in so many different areas and continually surprises.
"The food and drink sector is a prime example of this. Who knew that the county is the centre of education and production for so many wonderful food products? Our cheeses, ‘charcuterie’, wine, beer, cider, gin, rapeseed oil…the list goes on and on and many of these products are household names, prominent on shops’ shelves.
“For this reason, my Northamptonshire Surprise campaign in this upcoming year is focused on the food and drinks sector. The opening this fabulous new Food and Drink Innovation Centre has come at a very appropriate time to help support this important sector within Northamptonshire.
Ann Turner, MBE principal of Moulton College added: “Moulton College is delighted to host this important new centre for the sector, designed by the industry to meet their needs and already training the food producers and innovators of the future."
Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) are play a role in driving forward economic growth across the country and by 2021 the Government will have invested over £12 billion through the Local Growth Fund, allowing the LEPs to use their local knowledge to get all areas of the country firing on all cylinders.
Ann added: "It has been a true collaboration of employers, the LEP, the wider sector and the college to ensure the centre is flexible, supports innovation and development and importantly helps meet future skills needs.
“The courses are already attracting students from across the region.
"We look forward to the continuation of the collaboration and working with local industries to support the current Northamptonshire Surprise campaign.”
Conservative minister for Local Growth, Jake Berry, said: “We’re committed to boosting economic growth across the whole of the UK and building a Britain fit for the future.
“This £3.5 million Local Growth Fund investment will enable students enrolled at Moulton College to develop the high quality skills needed to boost our economy now and in the future, as well as driving innovation and productivity in the food and drink sector.”