Grant aid of over has been announced by the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney 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 the 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.”

Ireland is doing something exceptional in the agri-food sector. We are on a journey that in 20 and 40 years times as a decade when Ireland changed gear in terms of the food industry.

Simon Coveney said this was about producing the best food and products.

“This is by miles the most important sector in the economy. Over €10bn in exports and the next target is €11bn. But it’s not just about growing volume, but premiumisation of the food we produce.

“We want to ensure we produce the foods of the future and premium products of the future,” Minister Coveney said.

“We want to anticipate what consumers are gong to demand and pay more for and deliver on that innovation and technical challenge.

“This is about the application of academia research, working with the private sector and facilitating our institutes to draw down EU funding under the Horizon 2020 programme.”

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 said 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”.