The Independent Food and Drink Academy (IFDA) provides a unique service to small independent enterprises from street food traders through to established small businesses, offering a programme of events and training to help nurture growth and prosperity in one of Britain’s most dynamic sectors. The Academy operates on the principles of a collective network, combining small independent food & drink professional and industry practitioners supported by the expertise from Leeds Business School and our regional partners.
The IFDA’s objective is to help to professionalise, sustain and grow the independent food and drink sector in the Leeds city region by providing learning, development and commercial opportunities.
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Join our mailing list here to become a member and get informed about our events, regional funding opportunities and Masterclasses!
Our membership is free and provides businesses with the following benefits to help you grow and sustain your business:
- Regular Networking Events - These are a great opportunity to meet likeminded individuals who are willing to share their professional experiences and provide peer to peer support. Our events are also a great opportunity to meet other businesses who offer tailored services to your sector. You will find the programme of our planned events here
- Educational Masterclasses - These are workshops that focus on specific issues identified by members, and these sessions offer knowledge on variety of themes, such as strategic growth tools, finance and budgeting, retention and recruitment of staff, and marketing.
- Access to information on Regional Funding for a range of support programmes simulating growth provided by Leeds Beckett University, or our partners in the region such as Leeds City Council.
The Leeds Food and Drink Scene
Leeds is nationally recognised for having one of the best independent restaurant, bar and café scenes in the UK and many large organisations look to Leeds for inspiration and creative new ideas.
The large number of knowledgeable 'foodie' tourists and innovative locals, combined with a thriving network of high profile media outlets in the city, generates great opportunities for creative and enthusiastic food and drink entrepreneurs to launch and grow their businesses in a thriving and receptive market.
IFDA provides a forum for small independent enterprises from street-food traders to established businesses to share knowledge, experiences and information to help the business community thrive and grow. The event on 27 March 2019 was hosted at North Brewing Co where owner Christian Townsley provided a candid and humorous assessment of some of the lessons still being learnt while running a multi-award winning, growing businesses. Ben Barker from Artemis Brew, talked passionately about responsibly sourced coffee and the challenges of managing fluctuating demand for products over time. Neil Campbell, founder of Smak! spoke enthusiastically about Polish food and his journey from street food vendor to café bistro. He challenged the myth of a simple transition from street-food to restaurant and highlighted the time, commitment and problem solving skills required to make a success of it. David Baggaley from Economic Development at Leeds City Council drew attention to the support that is currently available for local businesses, particularly for those involved in business to business markets and seeking to introduce new technology to improve productivity.
A key message emerging from the event was that the strength or innovative nature of your product will only get you so far if the services you provide fall short of customer expectations or you are unable to access the business related knowledge and skills necessary to sustain the endeavour.
People - customers, suppliers, your workforce, accountants, lawyers, specialist advisors, family and others who share your vision are a key to success.
Leeds Business School