Last week food entrepreneurs from across the country showcased their ground breaking solutions to day-to-day problems at the Food Innovation Network Awards.
Manchester-based fermented food and drink company Booch & Brine, who work with the Manchester Food Centre at Manchester Metropolitan University, was one of ten winners to secure a £5,000 grant to turn their pioneering idea into reality.
Booch & Brine co-founder and fermenter-in-chief Emma Thackray said it felt “fantastic” to win: “I got into fermented food because I love the zingy and complex flavours but the more I learn about the microbiology of fermentation the more fascinated I become. The expertise at the Manchester Food Centre will help us get much more scientific about what we do.”
In a Dragons’ Den style pitch, micro, small and medium sized businesses shared their projects with a panel of industry experts. The winning entries all demonstrated unique ways in which they could increase productivity, enhance the environment, improve sustainability or aid our health and wellbeing.
Congratulating the winners, Food and Farming Minister George Eustice said: “Innovation is key to ensuring Britain’s successful food and drink industry continues to grow, which is why it was great to see such an exciting display of ingenuity from smaller businesses – who often do not have the same research resources available to them as larger companies.”
Booch & Brine are working with the Manchester Food Centre to develop practical resources, processes and guidance that will enable Booch & Brine to scale up production of one of their most popular products – a fermented drink called ‘kombucha’.
Emma added: “We ferment loose leaf tea with a culture called a SCOBY to create kombucha and it’s absolutely delicious – tart, sparkling and refreshing. It’s fairly new to the UK and there are only a handful of producers across the country.
“This grant means we can work with the Manchester Food Centre to look at kombucha best practice from the US and Canada and refine our manufacturing and quality control processes as we grow.”
The awards run by Innovate UK and the Knowledge Transfer Network, and sponsored by Defra and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, aim to encourage companies to examine ways in which they can revolutionise the food and drink sector. The network connects food producers across the country with world-class facilities such as test-kitchens and laboratories to help them create new products and production methods.