Heydon announces €1m for Irish researchers towards agri-food research

The Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM), Martin Heydon, today (Monday, February 1) announced awards of over €1 million for Irish researchers, collaborating in five international research projects.

The awards arise under European Research Area Networks (ERANETs) co-funded competitive research calls and relate to information and communications technology (ICT) and data innovations in the agri-food system, and the improvement of animal health via novel vaccine technology platforms and diagnostics.

Announcing the awards the minister said: “I am delighted to announce the five new funding awards for Irish-based researchers to allow them partner and collaborate with their European counterparts.

“This will further strengthen existing scientific linkages and develop international capacity and capability in the Irish research sector and keep us to the fore in delivering innovation in the agri-food sector.”

Food systems research projects

Four projects are funded under the ICT-AGRI-FOOD ERANET (ICT-enabled agri-food systems) research call that supports the development of new data-driven ICT solutions and platforms.

ICT-AGRI-FOOD is an ERANET that is focused on food supply chains at every level from farm to fork.

It also supports ways to address barriers for technology adoption by end-users with the aim to reduce the environmental footprint, increase resilience and improve food security in agri-food systems.

Two of the projects, HALY.ID and TailBiteAdvice, aim to develop innovative ICT-based advisory tools for farmers to monitor and target the sustainable management of agricultural crop pests and the minimisation of tail biting in pigs.

The SPECTROFOOD project looks to apply spectral techniques for quality characterisation of fruit and vegetable crops for use in the supply chain and to reduce food waste.

The project, MUSHNOMICS, aims to unlock data-driven analytics and innovation to optimise yields, lower costs and improve the economic viability in the mushroom value chain.

Animal welfare research

The remaining project is funded under the ICRAD ERANET (the International Co-ordination of Research on Infectious Animal Diseases) research call that supports the development and integration of new tools and systems for improved prevention and preparedness to combat infectious animal disease outbreaks.

The funded project, BM-FARM, looks to develop new techniques to reduce and prevent antimicrobial resistance on pig farms.

The funding has been awarded to three different Irish research institutions, including University College Dublin (UCD), the Tyndall National Institute and Teagasc, for the research contribution and collaboration with research institutions and organisations from 10 different European countries.

Minister Heydon concluded: “Today’s announcement will further deepen Ireland’s involvement in selective, strategically important, international, agri-food research initiatives.

“The successful projects funded under these Horizon 2020 ERANET calls will be key enablers of innovation in the agri-food sector and will contribute to the key strategic themes of Food Wise 2025 – competitiveness, innovation and sustainability.”

What are ERANETs?

ERANETs are research initiatives that contribute to the building of the European Research Area and, under Horizon 2020, they are designed to support transnational public-public partnerships in their preparation, design, implementation, coordination and networking of joint research activities.

DAFM resource and financial supports for ERANETs are undertaken in conjunction with other EU Member States, the EU Commission and sometimes can include third-party countries such as New Zealand and Canada.

Total funding of the successful projects under the two ERANETs is €1,149,288.17 – made up of the DAFM contribution of €754,865.00, EU top-up contributions of €306,423.17 and a Teagasc contribution of €88,000 in the form of a Walsh Scholarship to the HALY.ID project.