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Minister Coveney announces grant awards of over €20M for Agri-Food and Forest Research

58 highly trained scientist posts
53 post-graduate students specialised scientific training places

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney, TD, and Minister of State with Special Responsibility for Forestry Tom Hayes T.D., today announced awards of over €20 million for collaborative inter-institutional research projects under the Department’s FIRM, Stimulus and CoFoRD competitive research funding programmes. These awards arise from the Department’s 2014 Call for Research proposals.

Minister Coveney said that “this investment will build research capacity and capability in the Irish public research system and ultimately make a significant contribution to the sustainability and competitiveness of the Irish agri-food, forestry and aquaculture sectors. It will also provide contract employment for 58 highly trained scientists as well as specialised scientific training for 53 post-graduate students”.

The Minister highlighted his on-going commitment to research within the agri-food sector by stating “today’s research awards brings the total investment made by my Department over the last 3 years to over €85 million. This research is a key component in delivering on the ambitious targets set out in the Food Harvest 2020 strategy and the Government’s Action Plan for Jobs”.

Today’s awards cover a broad range of research activities well aligned to the ‘Sustainable Food Production and Processing’ and ‘Food for Health’ areas of National Research Prioritisation. The research spans health and welfare of livestock, sheep breeding, crop production, food safety at producer and processor level, competitiveness and sustainability of Irish aquaculture, a Sensory Food Science Network , marine materials as functional food ingredients, nutritional and health aspects of foods, private sector timber forecasting, wood use material flow and assessing Ireland’s risk to airborne spread of ash dieback disease.

The Minister commented that “as part of the 2014 Research Call funding has also been awarded for a new and improved Graduate Development Programme. The programme aims to provide an interface between industry and academia through the provision of industry relevant education, including innovation and entrepreneurship focused courses”.

Minister of State Tom Hayes, TD, with responsibility for Forestry, added “I particularly welcome the forestry research awards which, in a sense, are the first fruits of the ‘Forest Research Ireland’ strategic agenda that I launched in October, developed by a forest industry led group and which helped inform the CoFoRD part of this year’s Research Call.”

The contents of this year’s Call was heavily influenced by the emerging Strategic Research Agenda being developed by the Department-led, cross-funder Working Group under Research Prioritisation, as well as the Department’s own industry-led Research and Innovation Advisory Group. The Minister added, “the needs of industry remain central to our research programmes, clearly industry participation in driving the agenda is needed to ensure that funded research remains relevant to end user needs”.

The Minister also drew attention to the recently announced excellent results under the first Call of the agri-food and marine pillar of the EU Horizon 2020 Programme saying “I wish to congratulate the Irish institutional and industry research partners who won awards totalling over €11 million. This bears testimony to the Department’s on-going investment which builds and maintains the capacity and capability in the Irish research system needed to pursue these opportunities. It also provides a pipeline of expertise, knowledge and technology needed to engage in industry driven technology centres part funded by other national bodies”

Full details of these awards are set out in Appendix-1-Call-for-Proposals-2014 (.pdf, 76kb).