Planning approved for new food engineering centre

Planning permission has been granted for Sheffield Hallam University’s new home for the National Centre of Excellence for Food Engineering.

The new Centre will sit alongside Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park, and will become the latest University facility on the site, following in the footsteps of the Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre (AWRC).

Plans for the research-led centre include laboratories, workshops and teaching spaces with work focusing on engineering processes of food production and addressing an industry recognised shortage of food engineering expertise.

The application has now been approved by Sheffield City Council and will play a strategic role in developing advanced engineering capability for the food and drink industry, providing a major competitive advantage to the sector.

Work is expected to begin on site in September 2018 with the centre due to open in June 2019.

The Centre is designed to tackle food industry challenges such as productivity, producing more for less, minimising waste and reducing costs. It will support the food and drink industry by developing new and enhanced facilities, processes and equipment and creating a knowledgeable workforce with experience of leading engineering systems and processes.

The centre, and the associated Master’s degree, MEng Food Engineering, are supported by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) and have been developed in partnership with the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) and the National Skills Academy for Food and Drink, along with funding from the European Regional Development Fund.

Dr Martin Howarth, director of the centre, said: “The centre will support the food and drink industry to develop and implement new and enhanced facilities, processes and equipment, to keep the UK at the forefront of capability and efficiency in a very competitive sector.

“It will also enhance the development of a highly educated and knowledgeable workforce, through staff development and supporting employees with experience of leading engineering systems and processes.

“This project builds on our existing strong track record of providing excellent research and knowledge transfer, and of working in partnership with industry to develop education programmes that are designed to support companies by creating highly skilled and employable graduates, ready for the world of work.”

Rachel Clark, director of trade and investment at Sheffield City Region, said: “I’m so glad that we’ve reached this crucial step in bringing the National Centre of Excellence for Food Engineering to our region.

“Sheffield City Region is famed worldwide for its excellence in innovation and strong heritage in manufacturing and engineering. In collaboration with our city region’s two universities, our businesses are driving forward cutting-edge technology and building on that reputation, ensuring that we’re increasingly becoming a place where companies want to invest, grow and thrive.

“This centre will also be a major piece in the creation of the Health Innovation Campus, a public-private partnership which will lead the way in research and drive wider growth and development across our forward-thinking city region.”

For press information: Tim Ward in the Sheffield Hallam University press office on 0114 225 5220 or email


Speaking from Kenya during a charity visit, Hugh Facey, innovator, entrepreneur and chairman of Sheffield’s Gripple Ltd, told his staff that his OBE was down to their hard work and commitment over the years.

Hugh invented and launched the iconic Gripple wire joiner in 1989 and built a world-beating employee-owned company, which last year turned over £67m.

Gripple has four bases in Sheffield and operations in Chicago, Strasbourg and New Delhi. Multi award-winning Gripple, including five Queen’s Awards, now has 4000 customers, 650 employees and sold 600m wire joiners globally providing patented time-saving solutions within the construction, agriculture and viticulture markets.

Eighty-five per cent of production is exported to 80 countries with 25% of annual turnover from products less than five years old.

Hugh is also chairman of Sheffield’s reusable packaging innovator, Loadhog which last year achieved a record £9.6m turnover, representing 26.6% growth.

Hugh said on a video: “This is incredible news and a great honour. I have been thinking about what OBE means as well as officially. I concluded that I received it because of you – Our Brilliant Employees – to thank you for what you do day in day out to create wonderful companies. Pride may be a sin but you make me proud of what you do and what you will continue to do.”

For further press information please contact Margaret Laver at Proactive PR on 07723 010 752 or