The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Michael Creed T.D., has announced awards of almost €14.3 million in funding for collaborative research projects arising from last year’s Research Call under his Department’s three competitive research programmes.

Announcing the awards at a briefing in Dublin the Minister said “The projects being funded by my Department will make a significant contribution to the future sustainability, innovation and competitiveness of the Irish agri-food sector”.

Minister Creed continued; “The 23 projects funded cover topics across a wide range of areas including food safety and authenticity; functional foods for health and nutrition; novel food processing technologies; farm safety and animal well-being/ biosecurity; forest inventory and remote sensing, tree breeding and biotic threats. A number of the new projects focus on ensuring the environmental sustainability of our croplands, for example examining the use of multi species swards, the potential of carbon sequestration and sustainable pesticide use.”

A total of 12 Irish Research Performing Organisations will benefit from the awards announced to-day, including Teagasc, the Universities and the Institutes of Technology. The investment across all 23 projects will provide direct employment for 71 contract research positions. Furthermore, education opportunities will be provided for 57 post graduate students in the form of PhDs (47) and Masters degrees (10).

As part of the 2017 Call an arrangement exists whereby the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Development, Northern Ireland will provide funding to certain Northern Ireland based institutional applicants collaborating on one of the projects announced today. The Minister welcomed this “as an excellent example of the successful collaborative approach of the Administrations, North and South, working together in an important policy area which is of mutual benefit”. In addition, another separate project is being co-funded by the EPA.

The Research Call was heavily influenced by the strategic research agendas drawn up by industry-led, stakeholder advisory groups. The investment is aimed at underpinning the sustainability and competitiveness of the Irish agri-food sector, in line with the Food Wise 2025 strategy, through funding high quality and impactful research that will also build and maintain research capacity and capability in the Irish public research system.

This announcement follows a significant investment of some €72 million in nationally conducted agri-food and forest research over the last five years, together with €7 million in research conducted trans-nationally with other EU member states and the United States.

A number of additional research awards under the 2017 Call will be announced over the next few months.

Source: Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine