CUMBRIA and the South-West of Scotland will become the “go to” region for future investment in high-tech dairy processing.

This is according to project leads at the £21 million Digital Dairy Chain, which was officially launched recently near Dumfries.

Led by Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) from its Barony campus, it will see partners across South-West Scotland and Cumbria focusing on developing a fully integrated and traceable dairy supply chain.

Aligning with Scotland’s Strategy for Economic Transformation, it is planned that the Digital Dairy Chain will eventually lead to the creation of more than 600 jobs and generate £60m a year of additional value.

It will do this by attracting large dairy processors to the region, supporting investment in industry-focussed research and development and by turning South-West Scotland and Cumbria into a “magnet” for tech companies.

Supported by £21.3m from the UK Government’s Strength in Places Fund, the Digital Dairy Chain’s initial focus will be on the use of sensors and data from dairy herds and how it can be utilised to produce more and better dairy products.

Professor Wayne Powell, Principal and Chief Executive of SRUC, said: “Working with local and national businesses, the Digital Dairy Chain will transform the region’s dairy production systems and establish it as a global leader in advanced, sustainable and high-value dairy manufacturing.”

Jo Lappin, Chief Executive of Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “Innovation is critical to improving productivity and addressing labour supply issues and the Digital Dairy Chain can play a really important part in supporting our dairy sector to innovate. This matters to Cumbria as we are home to one of the biggest dairy herds in the UK. I am delighted that the Dairy Chain is now formally launched and look forward to continued close working with colleagues in SRUC to deliver this important project in South-West Scotland and Cumbria.”

In addition to SRUC, the Digital Dairy Chain comprises a number of partners in the region, including the University of Strathclyde, University of the West of Scotland, CENSIS, First Milk, Lactalis UK & Ireland, Kendal Nutricare, Cows & Co Group, National Milk Records and SmartSTEMs.

Cumbria and South-West Scotland is the UK’s second largest milk field, producing 1.9 billion litres each year.