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The development of a Food & Drink Innovation Hub in Edinburgh has inched closer after the partnership between East Lothian Council and Queen Margaret University was approved.

The hub, set to be built adjacent to the university, forms part of the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Deal, a £1.3bn regional investment programme funded by the UK and Scottish governments and regional partners including East Lothian Council.

This week, a report to the council approved the Joint Venture Structure between itself and Queen Margaret University that will take forward the delivery of the plans.

Also this week, the Court of the University gave their go-ahead for the joint venture.

The first stage of the hub’s construction is expected to commence in early 2023 and be complete in 2025.

The purpose of the Hub is to focus on food and drink-related innovation within the context of health and wellbeing and will include serviced laboratories and office accommodation as well as facilities for events.

Preparatory work has already begun on a new junction off the A1 to improve accessibility and connectivity to and from the Food and Drink Innovation Hub and wider Innovation Park.

East Lothian Council Leader Norman Hampshire said: “This is great news for East Lothian as we move into the recovery phase of the pandemic as it will bring a huge boost in terms of jobs, skills and business development to the area.

“The Hub and Innovation Park will build on East Lothian’s title of Scotland’s Food & Drink County and help us properly support research, innovation and growth in this important sector.”

Scottish Government Economy Secretary Kate Forbes added: “Good health and wellbeing are crucially important as we recover from the Coronavirus pandemic, so I welcome this major step forward for the Food and Drink Innovation Hub. This will help provide people with the skills they need to gain new opportunities and ensure new and current businesses are supported in investing in innovative ideas.”