A new programme to develop the next generation of research leaders to underpin the objectives of Ireland’s Food Wise 2025 strategy was launched by the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed TD.

This programme will fund 20 new experienced researchers for 36 months each, over the next five years. Operated by Teagasc, with co-funding from the European Commission, the programme will open on Monday, 2 July. It offers applicants the opportunity to conduct their research in the best academic, or non-academic, organisation of their choice worldwide (outside of Ireland) for 18 months, followed by a return phase to Teagasc (Ireland) for a further 18 months.

Speaking about the funding call, Minister Creed said “that the fellowship programme represented a unique opportunity to take the most talented early-career researchers and develop them into a cohort which will become the research and innovation leaders of tomorrow”.

The programme will have a total value of €5.2 million and will have two funding calls; each funding 10 fellowships (total 20 fellowships). Each fellowship will last 36 months. There will be a strong focus on the career development of the researchers, with all fellows undertaking an accredited management course, having a dedicated career mentor (separate to their scientific supervisors) and attending an annual retreat with presentations from established research leaders in industry, academia and civil society organisations.

This programme will also address the “leaky pipeline” whereby many promising female researchers do not achieve senior positions. Remote review cohorts and the final review panel will be gender balanced. A dedicated section of the website will highlight positive reasons for female researchers to apply for the fellowship. Successful female applicants will be facilitated in finding a senior female researcher to serve as a career mentor.

The fellowship programme will be operated by Teagasc, the Irish Agriculture and Food Development Authority. With an annual budget of €190 million, Teagasc combines excellent research in the areas of food and agriculture, with a dedicated farmer extension/advisory service, and a department dedicated to technology transfer to the food industry. The Teagasc annual research portfolio comprises some 350 research projects, carried out by 500 scientific and technical staff in seven research centres throughout Ireland. Research is organised into four programme areas Animal and Grassland; Crops, Environment and Land Use; Food; and Rural Economy and Development. Teagasc researchers have access to more than 1,250 hectares of experimental farm land, cutting edge research laboratories and strong industry partnerships.

Speaking about the new programme, Professor Gerry Boyle, Director of Teagasc said: “Research Leaders 2025 is a major investment by Teagasc in the research and innovation leaders of the future. I encourage potential candidates to engage with Teagasc researchers with a view to designing an impactful project which builds on their existing strengths and linking with a suitable host outside of Ireland for the outgoing phase. We look forward to welcoming the fellows back to Teagasc for the final 18 months of their fellowship”

Full details on the fellowships can be found on the Teagasc website.

An information webinar will be hosted at 2 pm Dublin time on Wednesday July 11th.

Source: Teagasc

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