Unprecedented UK demand for impartial quality automation audits and consultancy has resulted in CenFRA, Europe's first centre for food robotics and automation, receiving a further million pounds investment.
The Doncaster knowledge-based business will use the additional money to augment its engineering audit team through the recruitment of additional experienced food engineers. Part of the funding will also be used for providing additional R&D facilities and the financing of increased academic links, to support even more collaborative projects.
Requests for audits since CenFRA's new facility was launched in May 2008 have been at high levels, with enquiries taken from as far afield as the South East and Scotland.
While automation audits are normally free within the Northern Way (Yorkshire, North East and North West), CenFRA has been pleased with the number of food companies outside the North of England who are more than willing to pay a fee for its automation auditing services.
Chairman Michael Taylor says: "CenFRA is delighted to have secured this additional money to fund further front end investment. One of the biggest benefits of the extra funding is that it will allow us to not only meet our primary business plan objectives but also allow us to engage with a far wider base both in terms of customers, suppliers and academia."
Mr Taylor points out that the gestation period between companies expressing an interest and then investing in robotics can be an extended number of months, due to capital investment issues or businesses needing to decide on the amount of automation required.
CenFRA understands this process however and endeavours to maintain an ongoing dialogue to ensure that it does whatever it can to make things happen.
The sizeable one million pounds investment has been made by Yorkshire Forward, whose earlier vision led to the establishment of the company. The work of CenFRA fits neatly with the aim of the regional development agency, which is using where possible existing instruments to help businesses weather the economic storm and to provide a strong platform for future regional growth.