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Make Innovation Happen: Helping Food and Drink Businesses Succeed

Ambition 2030

SEFARI is an important partner in ‘Make Innovation Happen’, which is an initiative coordinated by the Scotland Food and Drink Partnership. This innovative is also supported by the Scottish Enterprise, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, the Scottish Government and the Scottish Funding Council. The aim of the initiative is to provide, for the first time, seamless delivery of innovative ways to support businesses and companies from across the whole agriculture-food supply chain, and help them to sustainably grow.


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Ambition 2030 captures the Scotland Food and Drink Partnership vision for the future growth of the Food and Drink sector and sets a headline target of doubling the economic value of the sector by 2030.

Innovation is one of the three key drivers to achieving Ambition 2030, with the others being skills and collaboration. It is well established that businesses that embrace innovation across all their activities grow faster and more sustainably.

Support to Scottish businesses has, until recently, been fragmented and as a result the full benefits of innovation have not always been realised.

Therefore we’ve helped to create a bold initiative called ‘Make Innovation Happen’, launched by Mr Fergus Ewing MSP at the Royal Highland Show 2017. ‘Make Innovation Happen’ supports all the five key stages of the innovation journey: Opportunity, Proposition, Viability, Engagement and Launch.  The initiative has simplified the landscape of funding, making it easier for companies to access support at any stage of this journey and to get continuity between different support agencies.

Prior to ‘Make Innovation Happen’, support for businesses involved in primary production or pre-manufacture was particularly fragmented and there was a major disconnect between this community and manufacturing. Underpinning research undertaken in SEFARI and this initiative is crucial in supporting the short, medium and long term economic success of the food and drink sector and facilitates improving connectivity throughout the food supply chain.  

We are able to help individual businesses and other partners access SEFARI research to develop multidisciplinary, outcome driven solutions that support innovation.  The unique and intimate knowledge of both industry and research held by SEFARI’s team of experts is also providing a platform to help give businesses early insight into future threats. This provides opportunities to support businesses in applying research findings to help future proof the industry.


Make Innovation Happen is a collaborative platform to support innovation across the agriculture-food supply chain and promote faster economic growth at a company and sector level.  This project is still in the early stages but is an example how the underpinning knowledge and experience within SEFARI is being integrated with the activities of enterprise agencies to support economic growth by helping primary producers increase productivity and improve sustainability.

The project is being delivered through close partnership between the Make Innovation Happen Innovation Consultants retained by the enterprise agencies and as part of the new Make Innovation Happen service, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and Scottish Enterprise are investing £650,000 into a new Food and Drink Collaborative Innovation Fund.

The fund is a bi-annual competition for groups of businesses within Scotland's food and drink supply chain - with a focus on small to medium sized enterprises (SME's). The aim of the fund is to encourage a culture of collaborative innovation by addressing key food and drink opportunities or challenges.


Our involvement in providing research and intellectual support for ‘Make Innovation Happen’ is helping to ensure that companies are able to be focussed on evidence based solutions.

This collaborative project is developing new ways for us to communicate with industry and the business community, at the heart of which are close working relationship with key enterprise agencies.

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