The centre will include an academic consultancy, student projects and a £200k two-year Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP).
Fresh-Pak’s five year strategy is to develop innovative production processes and ways of working to increase productivity and quality.
It turned towards the university to grow a strong science base, focusing on the application of robust materials science and chemistry.
The academic input from the University of Leicester is led by Professor Andy Abbot and Dr Alex Goddard from the Department of Chemistry and Professor Jeremy Levesley from the Department of Mathematics.
“We are delighted to partner with the University of Leicester as innovation forms one of the major strategic elements of our company’s growth strategy,” said Keith Foreman, managing director, Fresh-Pak.
“In today’s highly competitive landscape we firmly believe companies who innovate and constantly challenge all aspects of their operation will succeed and the creation of a Centre of Excellence will be instrumental in this.”
He added, Fresh-Pak wants to ‘revolutionise the way food is processed’ for better yields and quality performance.
It will also improve operational efficiencies for a more sustainable and environmentally sound food production process, to minimise waste and support practical application of recycling techniques.
Biomaterials & analytical techniques
As part of the project, it has hired an analytical chemist with access to the specialist expertise and facilities at the University of Leicester.
“The benefit to the University of collaborating with Fresh-Pak will be in demonstrating the impact of excellent academic research on a market sector (food processing),” said Professor Abbott.
“The knowledge and best practice gained as result of the collaboration will feed back into the University in terms of teaching, new research themes and publication.”
The University’s academic team has extensive knowledge of material science and the behaviour of biomaterials and analytical techniques.
It also has experience of process development, pilot scale testing and installation and testing of production scale processes.
Based in South Yorkshire, Fresh-Pak is a supplier of food products to supermarkets, food service providers and business-to-business and is the UK’s largest producer of boiled eggs (over five million cooked every week).
Products made at the site include chilled sandwich fillers and accompaniments.