Funding for dairy project set to help create 600 new jobs

A digital dairy project aiming to create 600 new jobs in South-West Scotland and Cumbria has been awarded more than £21 million of funding.

The University of Strathclyde is a partner in the Digital Dairy Value-Chain, which could generate an additional £60 million a year for a region which produces nearly two billion litres of milk annually.

The project team will work with the dairy industry to develop and implement technologies for sensing and data handling, as well as infrastructure to support innovation and growth for local businesses, nurturing young entrepreneurs and teaching and training of new skills and capabilities.

It will deliver advanced manufacturing processes to create a fully integrated and traceable supply chain as well as help businesses to develop new products and explore new markets. It will also provide a platform for research and business innovation in advanced, sustainable, high-value production and processing.

At one end of the chain, farmers are increasingly able to monitor their cows and feeds, their environment and the milking process, while there also possibilities for sensing and use of data in smart factories producing more and better dairy products.

The project has received £21.3 million from the UKRI (UK Research & Innovation) Strength in Places fund. It is led by Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC).

Professor Craig Michie, of Strathclyde’s Department of Electronic & Electrical Engineering, is the University’s lead in the project. He said: “Strathclyde has a history of producing innovative technology designed to improve productivity in the dairy sector. The project will bring enhancements from the farm-to-the-consumer through optimising the supply chain, ensuring excellence in animal welfare and minimising the dairy carbon footprint. A further key goal is to train a skilled and innovative workforce empowering the sector to create new products and implement new precision farming working practices.

“The project will not only bring significant benefit to the region but will generate innovative solutions that are globally relevant in establishing best farming practices that have the wellbeing of the animal at the heart whilst minimising the sector’s impact on the environment.”

Globally, the dairy industry produces around 3% of greenhouse gases related to human activity. As well as helping to decarbonise the region’s dairy industry, the project will help to develop and retain a skilled and innovative workforce in the area to create new products and new ways of working.

These will be special to the region but also globally relevant in best practices and changing the perception of dairy as a high-value product.

Other partners in the project include the University of the West of Scotland, CENSIS, First Milk, Lactalis UK & Ireland, Kendal Nutricare, Cows & Co Group, National Milk Records and SmartSTEMS.