*Head of Clare LEO Padraig McElwee Photo: Arthur Ellis
AN INNOVATIVE new online food programme from Clare Local Enterprise Office is set to boost the number of food start-ups across the county.
The Digital School of Food is the first of its kind in Europe and gives food entrepreneurs expert advice and guidance from their home, office or kitchen.
The online programme is an e-learning initiative that brings producers from idea right through to start-up and grow stages. The programme will give food entrepreneurs an education in planning a product journey and route to market, through thinking about finance and how to grow sales, right up to expanding the business.
It includes support from experts in the field as each course has a real producer who contributes tips and advice throughout. The programme includes contributions from trade buyers in Supervalu, Musgraves and Spar along with the likes of Domini Kemp of ITSA Food Group and food producers who have been through the system.
Entrepreneurs who complete the Digital School of Food are then primed to move on to take part in the Food Starter programme offered by the Clare LEO and subsequently Food Academy, which gives producers the opportunity to get their product on retail shelves.
Clare Local Enterprise Office have supported several successful food businesses in the region including Meere’s Pork Products, Western Herd Brewery, Loudons Brewery and St. Tola Cheese.
Padraic McElwee, Head of Enterprise Clare said “Irish food is renowned the world over and we enjoy an enviable reputation for high quality food production. It is important that we continue to cultivate new food entrepreneurs and start-ups, particularly during these challenging times.
“The Digital School of Food is an excellent first step for anyone with an idea to establish a food production business. It will help them mould that idea to bring it to the next stage. This is particularly significant now, with many potential entrepreneurs at home, they can access this programme from anywhere.
“Starting a food business can be straightforward but growing it can be challenging. The Local Enterprise Offices are there to support those who take the programme.The Digital School of Food is a game changer for food entrepreneurs and will enable aspiring entrepreneurs to learn best practice in setting up a food business.”
For more information on the Digital School of Food go to www.DigitalSchoolofFood.ie