The University of Reading has awarded Paul Lindley, founder and CEO of Ella’s Kitchen, the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws during its summer graduation ceremony.
Lindley founded organic baby food manufacturer Ella’s Kitchen in 2004, following his experiences in bringing up his own two children, Ella and Paddy, and Ella’s Kitchen has achieved phenomenal growth in just seven years. The company now has a presence in eight countries and by mid-2011 had a 14% market share of the UK baby food sector, making it one of the fastest-growing companies in the UK.
The University of Reading has played an integral part in the success of Ella’s Kitchen, which is based in Henley-on-Thames. The original products were trialled in the Food Process Research Centre housed in the University’s Department of Food & Nutritional Sciences. Working with Dr Susan Matos in Reading’s Knowledge Transfer Centre, Ella’s Kitchen began a collaboration with Reading academics that saw the development of a multi-sensory marketing approach for enhancing children’s enjoyment of healthy food.
A further project with academics in Food & Nutritional Sciences has helped transform the company’s approach to sourcing raw materials – helping them maintain their consistent high-quality finished products – as well as bringing cost reductions.
On receiving his degree Lindley said: “It is humbling and a great honour. I accept the degree with an acknowledgement to the exceptionally talented team who work with me at Ella’s Kitchen and the support of institutions such as the University of Reading. The University has been part of my Ella’s Kitchen journey since I developed my first product, and the Knowledge Transfer Centre has been key to supporting and proving our ‘good in every sense’.”
Pro-vice-chancellor for research and innovation Professor Christine Williams said: “The birth and growth of Ella’s Kitchen is a great example of an entrepreneur working closely with university researchers. The links between the company and the University of Reading began even before Paul launched the company and have grown ever stronger since then. Paul’s campaigning zeal and support for other entrepreneurs can be seen in his work to reform tax systems so that they incentivise entrepreneurs and his enthusiasm for working with student entrepreneurs via the University’s Centre for Entrepreneurship. He is a worthy recipient of the award of this Honorary Degree.”