Plans for a new €8.8 million National Food Innovation Hub revealed

Plans for a new €8.8 million National Food Innovation Hub were jointly announced by An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed.

It was confirmed today that the Department of Agriculture would fund the development of the new hub at Teagasc’s Moorepark Campus in Fermoy, Co. Cork.

Small and medium-sized agri-food businesses are already preparing for Brexit by taking an innovative approach and opening up new European and international markets outside of the UK, according to Taoiseach Varadkar.

This new National Food Innovation Hub will help Irish businesses to innovate and expand, keeping our agri-food sector competitive and attracting investment in a post-Brexit world.

Meanwhile, Food Wise 2025 identified research, development and innovation as key drivers of competiveness in the agri-food sector, Minister Creed said.

He believes that this hub will be key to aiding collaboration between the industry and the research community to advance research and new product innovation.

The primary objective of the National Food Innovation Hub is to create a business innovation network involving: dairy companies; Moorepark Technology Ltd (MTL); incubator companies; and public-private partnership based R&D programmes.

The research focus of this network is set to focus on food processing, quality and nutrition.

The overall project is expected to involve the construction of up to 12 customer application suites – containing office and laboratory space, so that each company can have an on-campus presence to conduct new product development and other research.

Linked to both the Teagasc Food Research Centre and MTL, it is hoped that the new hub will stimulate intensive collaboration between companies and Teagasc researchers in order to create a platform for innovation, economic growth and job creation.

Importance of the project

Commenting on the announcement, Minister Creed said: “€8.8m of exchequer funding will be provided from my department’s capital allocation on a phased basis over 2018 and 2019 to fund the development of the National Food Innovation Hub.

“This is a strategically important project for Ireland’s agri-food sector – especially in the context of Brexit – which poses enormous challenges for the sector by virtue of its reliance on the UK market, and the associated challenges in developing new markets and value added products.

“It will also be a valuable tool to SMEs, as it will provide an opportunity to engage in research activities in an affordable way, allowing companies to scale up by collaborating with highly skilled internationally renowned Teagasc food researchers.”

Meanwhile, the investment in the hub comes on top of a €10 million investment by Teagasc and the dairy industry in MTL (Moorepark).

Speaking at the launch, director of research at Teagasc, Dr. Frank O’Mara, said: “Innovation in the food industry is critically important to ensure that Irish companies continue to compete effectively in the market place, particularly in light of new and emerging challenges like Brexit.

“I would like to thank the minister and the department for their continued support and this investment on the Moorepark campus will assist Teagasc in providing infrastructure and expertise to support companies as they innovate and adapt in the future.”