A £21 million digital dairy project – involving University of the West of Scotland (UWS) – aiming to create 600 new jobs has been announced.

It is expected the Digital Dairy Value-Chain could generate an additional £60m a year for the South-West Scotland and Cumbria region, which produces nearly two billion litres of milk a year.

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

Professor Craig Mahoney, Principal and Vice-Chancellor at UWS, said: “I am delighted UWS’s expertise will play a key role in this incredibly exciting project, which has the potential to deliver enormous real-world benefits for the region and the global dairy industry.

“At UWS, we believe in purposeful research that positively impacts on societies and, with the potential creation of 600 new jobs and a focus on enhancing sustainability, we are pleased to be involved in this important project.”

Professor Milan Radosavljevic, UWS’s Vice-Principal, Research, Innovation and Engagement, added: “UWS’s world-leading expertise across thin films, sensors, digital and 5G technologies, business innovation and skills development will be of central importance to this vital, globally relevant project. I am therefore thrilled at UWS’s key role in the new Digital Dairy Value-Chain, which seeks to renew and decarbonise the area’s dairy industry, creating hundreds of new jobs and adding £60m to the annual output of the local economy.”

Led by Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC), and working with partners operating in the region, including UWS, University of Strathclyde, CENSIS, First Milk, Lactalis UK & Ireland, Kendal Nutricare, Cows & Co Group, National Milk Records and SmartSTEMS, the project will provide a platform for research and business innovation in advanced, sustainable, high-value production and processing.

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.