Scientists share €28m in agri-food and forestry funding

Researchers in Teagasc, UCC, CIT, UL,UCD, NUIG and GMIT have collectively been awarded €28m in grants for research into agri-food and forestry projects.

One project is led by Dr David Reid, at Marine Institute, Galway, on ‘Fisheries Knowledge for Optimal Sustainable Management’. This study brings together teams in UCC, GMIT, QUB, AFBI (Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute in Belfast), and is to be granted €1,488,745 by the Department of Agriculture, plus another €927,398 by the equivalent department in Northern Ireland.

Another award recipient is a study entitled ‘Developing the next generation of protein-enriched spray dried dairypowders with enhanced hydration properties’, led by Dr Mark Auty of Teagasc, working with CIT, UCC, UU and WIT. This study is to be granted almost €2.2m and €365,097 respectively by the Departments of Agriculture in the South and North of Ireland.

“These research grants will help underpin competitiveness in the Irish agri-food sector,” said Paul Kelly, director of Food and Drink Industry Ireland (FDII), the Ibec group that represents the food and drink sector. “It is particularly welcome in light of the challenges posed by Brexit as well as the wider growth ambitions outlined in the national agri-food strategy FoodWise 2025.”

Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed, said: “The €28m in awards for collaborative inter-institutional research projects will make a significant contribution to the sustainability, innovation and competitiveness of the Irish agri-food, forestry and marine sectors whilst also adding to research capability at the institutional level.”

The 43 awards will fund collaborations between 19 different bodies, notably Teagasc, universities and the institutes of technology. The grants will directly employ 186 people — 65 contract researchers and 83 post-graduate research opportunities in the form of PhDs (66) and Masters degrees (17).

The projects focus on sustainable food production and processing; environmental protection; sustainable forestry; food safety and quality; and nutrition and health.

The agriculture departments in the North and South have also teamed up to provide €2m to enable three research performing organisations north of the border to participate in seven of the successful research projects.

Minister Creed said: “These research awards brings the total investment made by my Department in the last five years to €124m. This research is a key component in delivering on the targets in the Food Wise 2025 and in the Government’s Action Plan for Jobs.”

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