National Centre of Excellence for Food Engineering

Sheffield Hallam University is working with the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) and the National Skills Academy for Food and Drink (NSA) to develop a world leading capability, the National Centre of Excellence for Food Engineering (NCEFE), which will be fully operational by 2017.

In 2013, the Centre received a funding boost of £6.9million from the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE). Additional support of £1million is being provided by a range of leading food and drink companies and equipment suppliers. The total project investment including capital and revenue will be £16m up to 2020.

What will the Centre deliver?

The ambition for the Centre of Excellence is to provide world class engineering facilities – acting as a hub for engineering innovation and skills solutions – to help improve productivity and ultimately the competitiveness of the UK's largest manufacturing sector.

The Centre is an excellent example of industry, government and academia working in collaboration to address the challenges identified by industry. It will deliver:

  1. New talent: Industry developed undergraduate to masters provision. The integrated MEng for the food and drink sector, is the anchor project a four year course from undergraduate to masters, developed by industry.
  2. Industry relevant competencies; CPD and work force development for those engineers working in the food and drink sector and engineers considering a career in the food and drink sector.
  3. R&D and innovation services focussing on Engineering and production processes for the food and drink sector but also drawing on the University's expertise and proven track record of innovation for the food sector, which includes leadership and staff development, sensory and ingredients, product and packaging design, materials and packaging sustainability, food waste and the environment and process modelling and simulation, hospitality and retail.
  4. Food sector employment opportunities challenging graduates' perceptions of the food sector as a career of choice and promoting the recruitment of graduate engineers into the food sector.
  5. A Network hub and focus for the food industry based on a unique core of engineering expertise which is complementary to and brings a new perspective to those working in food science, ingredients, manufacturing and other related areas.

The Centre of Excellence for Food Engineering will create an opportunity for food manufacturers to take control of their future and shape a pipeline of talent. One of the biggest challenges for industry when training the food sector's future engineers is the lack of food standard engineering facilities; most training is focussed on basic maintenance, rather than the advanced technologies demanded by a competitive sector. The Centre will provide a solution, developing an industry standard engineering centre of excellence with an associated innovation and R&D capability.


Centre of Excellence Governance

Gavin Darby, Chief Executive of Premier Foods, has been appointed as the Chair of the Food Engineering Industrial Advisory Board (FEIAB) for the National Centre of Excellence for Food Engineering.

The organisations involved in the Board are: Sheffield Hallam University, FDF, National Skills Academy for Food and Drink Engineering, Arla Foods, Aunt Bessie's Ltd, Cargill Plc, Kellogg's, McCain Foods, Mondelez International, Nestlé UK Ltd, Premier Foods Plc and Warburtons Ltd.

Innovation Group

FDF has set up an Innovation Group to support future bids for funding to support research at the Centre of Excellence.

Long-term the Food Engineering Innovation Group will lead the prioritisation of projects for the NCEFE and identify opportunities to collaborate on technically challenging collaborative projects with a clear commercial opportunity for our industry. The group will look for ways to use engineering innovation to meet consumer need, addressing the industry's environmental, social and economic challenges and contributing towards achievement of the 20/20 vision for growth.

For further information please contact Selga Speakman-Havard.

Infrastructure Group

Working groups are being set up under FEIAB including the Infrastructure Group which will lead on the physical build and consider the equipment required to meet the food and drink industry's needs. If you would like to get involved, engineering experts in food and drink manufacturing companies are invited to join this group. Please contact Selga Speakman- Havard for more information.


Research Priorities and Funding Competitions

The Centre will secure public funding on behalf of the food and drink industry to address a number of industry research priorities including those outlined in the Pre-Competitive Research priorities identified by FDF and the Knowledge Transfer Network.

To find out more visit the R&D and Innovation toolkit FDF members only.

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Visit the National Centre of Excellence for Food Engineering website

Last reviewed: 20 Dec 2017