By Aoife Curran

A Technical Consultant at North West Regional College’s (NWRC) Foodovation Centre has been shortlisted as a finalist for the Northern Ireland Food and Drink Awards (NIFDA).

Karen Marran said she was delighted to be named as a finalist for her Outstanding Contribution to the Food and Drink sector.

She said: ”When I found out I was named as a finalist I was shocked but delighted.

‘’I’m really passionate about helping and supporting local businesses such as Lo & Slo (Emily McCorkell), With Love Recipes (Sharron McCormick), Sukhi’s Kitchen (Sukhi Nagra) and Hempful (Eamon Canning) as well as many others who have successfully turned their ideas into market ready products.’’

Commenting on Karen’s shortlisting, Dr Fergal Tuffy, Technology Innovation Manager at the NWRC Business Support Centre (BSC) said: ‘’This award is recognition of Karen’s dedication to supporting entrepreneurs and small businesses to develop new food products.

‘’Karen has great technical knowledge and expertise across a range of sectors but most importantly she engages with the Foodovation Centre’s clients and builds up a great rapport with them to realise their new ideas and make their ambitions a reality. A key member of the NWRC Foodovation team, Karen is thoroughly deserving of this shortlisting.”

Now in its 15th year, the NI Food and Drink Awards are widely recognised across the industry as an indicator of commercial success for manufacturers and processors.

Foodovation client and owner of Lo & Slo Emily McCorkell said:  ‘’Karen is wonderful and such a knowledgeable and integral part of the team. She not only knows her area of expertise but is supportive, encouraging, and caring to each and every one of her clients.

‘’I feel fortunate to have had her assistance and support on my projects and look forward to working with her again. There’s no one I could recommend more highly than Karen.’’

Sharron McCormick, owner of With Love Recipes and Foodovation client added: ‘’I met Karen at a chance meeting at the BBC Good Food Show, I mentioned my recipes and she said ‘I can help you with that.’ Since then I’ve produced two products and will now be going on for a third or fourth one.

‘’Karen’s help and knowledge was invaluable; she took my idea from its infancy, to the end product. Karen dealt with everything so professionally and always with a smile. I am in a debt of gratitude to Karen and her team and I couldn’t have done it without her, she’s been amazing.’’

Michael Bell, Executive Director, NIFDA added: “The NIFDA awards are an opportunity to recognise and celebrate the world-class quality of Northern Ireland produce in front of an audience of industry leaders and customers. “

A panel of industry experts, including representatives from major supermarkets will judge the entries. The winners will be announced at a gala awards ceremony hosted by BBC presenter Jo Scott on Friday March 22 in the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Belfast.

For more information about NWRC’s Foodovation Centre visit or call 02871276408

NWRC's Karen Marran shortlisted for top award