The government has chosen 19 new opportunities for investment across the UK, and automation and robotics in Greater Lincolnshire’s food sector is one of them.

Investment Minister Gerry Grimstone MP announced that the bid submitted by the Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership has been successful in joining the High Potential Opportunities (HPO) scheme.

The county council, along with other organisations in Greater Lincolnshire will now work with the Department for International Trade (DIT) with an aim to attract overseas investment in this sector.

Cllr Colin Davie, executive councillor for economy and place at the county council, said:

“The Department of International Trade’s network in 177 cities around the world, will be supporting our agri-food automation and robotics industry -showcasing and promoting opportunities to investors and creating highly skilled jobs.

“Our food and food processing sector in Greater Lincolnshire is something to shout about and deserves to be profiled on this international stage.

“We need investors to know that being based here opens up a wealth of opportunities for their business.”

Next month partners from the Greater Lincolnshire LEP, Lincolnshire County Council, district councils, universities and industry will start work with the DIT on Greater Lincolnshire’s commercial proposition for food processing, automation and robotics.

The end result will be used by the DIT to promote the sector around the world.

Cllr Nick Worth, county councillor for Holbeach and deputy leader of South Holland District Council, said:

“This is really positive news for the area, and the additional support, promotion and resource will be invaluable as the district and wider county continues to promote itself to investors as the home of the largest cluster of agri-food businesses anywhere in the country.”

The expectation is that the HPO will attract more inward investment to the area and create more high-quality jobs in the agrifood sector.

Pat Doody, Chair of the Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership, said:

“Food production has created more growth and high-value jobs in the last five years than any other sector so we are delighted this is recognised nationally.

“Partners locally are working together to develop Greater Lincolnshire into a UK Food Valley which will compete globally.

“Key schemes such as the development of the South Lincolnshire Food Enterprise Zone and the growth of the agri-robotics research hub have been influential in growing the cluster.

Professor Simon Pearson, Professor of Agri-Food Technology at the Lincoln Institute for Agri-Food Technology, said:

“We’re delighted to be engaged in this opportunity. Clearly agrifood technology is a significant strength of the University of Lincoln.

“It’s a wonderful way to exploit the research capacity at the university which now includes the largest group of agri-roboticists in the EU.”

The Minister for Investment Gerry Grimstone MP said:

“The UK has so much to offer international investors across a variety of key sectors and regions. Inward investment will help the UK build back better while levelling up all parts of the UK.

“This is just the start of the steps we are taking to increase inward investment and drive economic recovery.”