Inspired by the interregional staff exchanges and learning events held during the TRINNO project, the added-value food sector in the northern and western region of Ireland has received a boost through its prioritisation for support through ERDF measures, aimed at fostering the growth of this important traditional sector in the regional economy.

Local Enterprise Offices in the region that participate in the project’s regional stakeholder group, have prioritised the food sector with ERDF budget measures in their role as implementation partners for the Regional Operational Programme (ROP) for the Northern and Western Region of Ireland. Already this has resulted in notable success, with up to 20% of these budgets dedicated to food enterprise supports, including direct support for food enterprises to finance their growth plans.

This is part of the overall Action Plan for the development of this traditional sector in a largely rural region, including the use of digital technologies to accelerate growth. Other actions include adopting digital technologies to pilot new food distribution models for these rural based enterprises.

The future development of the sector will be further underpinned by the establishment of a network of regional food innovation and incubation centres. Through a co-ordinated effort from the members of the regional stakeholder group, national exchequer funding is approved for new infrastructure for the establishment of two new food centres and the expansion of one existing food hub in the region to address gaps identified. Coupled with targeted supports from the relevant bodies, these will be a key part of a new support eco-system to foster the future growth of this important sector for this largely rural region. From its pro-active engagement with the Managing Authority through the TRINNO project, the Regional Stakeholder Group is also invited to provide inputs to the consultation process for the next Regional Operational Programme, which will ensure that priority measures can be considered and sustained for the next programming period.