The Celtic Manor was the scene of a first for Wales when it hosted the BlasCymru/TasteWales, which managed to mix a two-day conference of food industry big wigs and eggheads, with a showcase of Welsh foods, and an opportunity for food producers to meet buyers from supermarkets and distributors for the UK and abroad.

Considering that Wales has always been full of good food, with significant manufacturing in Monmouthshire and South East Wales as well as Flintshire, it is more of a wonder that it took so long to have a Wales-centric food industry bun fight.

The necessary Assembly Ministers had made the drive east from Cardiff Bay to tell a captive audience how important the food and drink industry was to Wales. It is one of the Principality's biggest employers, and is worth more than £17bn to the Welsh economy annually. And the Welsh government wants to make it even bigger, hoping to help it grow by 30 per cent by 2020.

So Economy Minister Ken Skates scooted down to the Celtic, to launch a project that will hopefully boost the Welsh economy with a £100m, by investing £21m in food innovation with Project Helix.

This little scheme is designed to help small to medium-sized food and drink manufacturers get ahead with research and money saving advice.

These days, the defining features of Wales are no longer the heavy industry and shipping that fed an Empire, and inspirational rugby, but more esoterical industry and inspirational football. And the food products that are coming out of Wales speak of the ghost of the pre-industrial country that inspired artists with its beauty and rural idyll - apart from the rain.

The disruptive topography of forgotten valleys, and remote dells, are ideal hiding places for old traditions and values for the land and the food and drink it nourishes.

And the nature of the food industry has changed. The luminous colours and dehydrated innovations have been lost to nostalgia, as emerging from neglected nooks and crannies are carefully crafted food and drink products that gather popular appeal at the farmers markets and food fesstivals before spreading their wings into wider marketplaces and foreign kitchens.

And if you have something that you can make, and believe in, in the age of Instagram and Facebook, the gap has narrowed on the tools you need to promote the next Great Taste that the world deserves, and you can serve up.

So how do you go about turning a passion in the kitchen into a world-beating epicurean brand? Professor David Lloyd, Director of ZERO2FIVE Food Innovation Centre based at Cardiff Met University can tell us how.

Food Innovation Wales through its centres - Cardiff, Horeb in Ceredigion, and Coleg Menai, Gwynedd - is there to help ideas, kitchen hob recipes and orchard press drinks into a business reality. And at Cardiff, with the launch of the new HELIX programme, as well as the start-up advice and support that had been at ZERO2FIVE, there is now access to important research data, technical help to steer through the minefield of food safety and hygiene, and advice on how to reduce waste. But it is all for a purpose, and that purpose is to get Wales working, and creating jobs with excellent world-beating products that sing of their country of origin.

And of course Monmouthshire has already got a head start. It is the good farming land that Owain Glyndwyr needed to secure if his bid for an independent Welsh state was to succeed, and famously documented more recently by Fred Hando for the South Wales Argus in his rambles around the 'Fair Land of Gwent'. It is lush, lovely, with good farmland.

The first thing to understand, is that it doesn't matter how far you have got with your food or drink idea or product, you can go in and get advice on its real viability.

"People come with a product or an idea, and firstly it is a question of finding whether it is sellable or it is unique enough, and then establish what stage it is at," says Prof Lloyd.

The first stage is taking the product, and seeing if it is good enough.

if you are through that hoop, then the next stages are to register the company, and a risk assessment of the product.

After that, it is question of whether they are going to set up production themselves, or opt for a co-packer, who are contract manufacturers for the product.

"The people with the food or drink idea would own the formulation and product, but would not want to get involved in the manufacture," says Lloyd. "That has the advantage of not having a significant capital outlay, but you do lose a little of the control because someone else is producing it for you."

But if you do want to command your own destiny, he says the Welsh Government is very good at identifying good sites for a food or drink business.

Most businesses will then put their products in front of the consumer at farmers markets, as these are good for getting immediate feed back, and so you can react to comments and demand and start to build a customer base.

"Often, companies that have gone through that will speed up to national events like the Royal Welsh, and that means higher turnover."

ZERO2FIVE has the contact and the knowledge and contacts to advise and guide start up companies on whether to target the supermarkets or the restaurants and the foodservice sector.

But importantly, they will be able to validate the food, to make sure that it is safe through testing by food scientists, and try and help the company grow and flourish.

So if you think you have the passion and the product, why not see if you have what it takes. Contact ZERO2FIVE Food Industry Centre Tel: 029 2041 6306 Email: Web: