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Science Foundation Ireland & Teagasc Team up to Launch Strategically Important Research Funding Call for “The Future Agri-Food”

To support science-based innovation in the agri-food sector

Coveney: “Continued innovation in the area of Agri-Food is essential to maintain Ireland’s status as a world leader in the sector”

Sherlock: “Our research excellence in a broad range of scientific disciplines will underpin profitability, competitiveness and sustainability in the Agri-Food sector.”

A Memorandum of Understanding, between Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) & Teagasc, was signed today at the Teagasc Research Centre, Moorepark, Co. Cork.

This collaboration agreement ‘the Future Agri-Food’, aims to strengthen and accelerate research and innovation in Ireland’s Agri-food sector which employs in the region of 150,000 people here.

SFI and Teagasc have agreed to jointly fund research grants between scientists from the agriculture and food disciplines and scientists from other scientific and engineering disciplines.

Speaking about the agreement, Mr. Simon Coveney, TD, Minister for Agriculture, Food and Marine, said “Agri-food is Ireland’s largest indigenous industry having delivered a record €9billion in exports in 2012, a terrific achievement considering the fiscal difficulties experienced globally.”

Minister Coveney added “Continued innovation in the area of agri-food is essential to maintain Ireland’s status as a leader in both the primary production and secondary processing of agri-food worldwide. The commitment of Teagasc and SFI to supporting science-based innovation in this sector will undoubtedly prove invaluable to the future of the agri-food economy in Ireland.”

Mr. Sean Sherlock, TD, Minister for Research and Innovation added, “To meet the challenge of global demands, Irish food production will need to remain focused on sustainable cost-competitive production while seeking to extract greater value from its products. Undoubtedly research and innovation will play a key role in meeting this challenge.”

Minister Sherlock continued “The National Research Prioritisation Exercise identified a number of areas, including Agri-Food and Food for Health, which can offer the greatest economic and enterprise potential for Ireland. The Prioritisation Action Group (PAG) which I chair has identified a number of important initiatives designed to bring greater coordination across funding agencies. I want to strongly commend SFI and Teagasc for executing this important collaborative agreement which reinforces the Government’s commitment to ensure that top-class research is better targeted at turning the really smart ideas of our scientific community into good products and good sustainable jobs.”

The joint initiative aims to bring a broad range of disciplines and technologies to bear on strengthening innovation in the agri-food sector and to offer opportunities to scientists in a wide range of disciplines including, genomics, robotics, material science, nanotechnology, immunology and ICT. The convergence of this broad range of disciplines will help underpin the profitability, competitiveness and sustainability targets set out in the Department of Agriculture’s “Food Harvest 2020” strategy.

Director of Teagasc, Professor Gerry Boyle welcomed the announcement commenting "Teagasc’s aim is to support science-based innovation in the agri-food sector and the broader bioeconomy. These goals serve to underpin profitability, competitiveness and sustainability within the sector. The agri-food sector within Ireland has a number of unique and advantageous characteristics; the international reputation of Ireland’s food industry, its continued success in export growth and its potential for expansion and development place agri-food at the forefront of achieving the national goal of sustainable economic renewal. The agreement signed today between Teagasc and SFI will serve to further develop the success of the agri-food sector both domestically and internationally".

Director General of SFI, Professor Mark Ferguson said, ‘SFI’s mission is to be the best science funding agency in the world at creating impact from excellent scientific research and to be the exemplar in building partnerships that fund excellent science. Today’s agreement builds and strengthens scientific and engineering research in the area of agri-food an area of great strategic value to Ireland’s long-term competitiveness . This agreement will prepare the Irish scientific community to compete, lead and win in relevant EU Horizon 2020 funding programmes and other relevant international funding.”