£60m for two new co-centres on climate and sustainable food 

Collaboration between Irish, Northern Ireland and UK governments will see unprecedented collaboration between academics, industry and policymakers 

A new Co-Centres programme will see researchers from across Ireland and the UK working together on vital work ranging from the protection of supplies of clean water to ensuring that we can feed a growing global population while also reaching net zero goals. 

green trees near river under blue sky during daytime

Photo by bennoptic

The Co-Centre for Climate + Biodiversity and Water will address the interlinked challenges of climate change, biodiversity loss and water degradation. It will involve some 14 research organisations and 64 researchers, under the leadership of Professor Yvonne Buckley of Trinity College Dublin, Professor Mark Emmerson of Queens University Belfast and Professor Edward Hawkins from University of Reading. 

The Co-Centre for Sustainable and Resilient Food Systems will undertake a research programme across four platforms: sustainable food; food safety and integrity; nutrition and health; and food systems data modelling. This will include developing end-to-end solutions from soil-to-society. Some 15 research organisation will be involved and 68 researchers under the leadership of Professor Eileen Gibney of University College Dublin, Professor Aedin Cassidy of Queen’s University Belfast and Professor Louise Dye from University of Sheffield. 

The programme is funded over six years with up to €40m from Science Foundation Ireland (SFI), up to £17m from Northern Ireland’s Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) and up to £12m through UK Research and Innovation (UKRI). It is co-funded by industry. 

Michelle Donelan, UK Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology, says: ‘As I know from my own family links, the UK and Ireland share deep ties – and in today’s fast-moving world, we share many of the same challenges, too. From our ground-breaking international work on AI, to our deal to join Horizon, the UK is determined to seize the opportunities for growth and prosperity that can be delivered, when we work together on science and tech with our neighbours. 

‘By bringing together the genius that exists across our islands, we will unlock the new ideas and inventions that will help us secure our food chains and tackle climate change, delivering innovative solutions for global good.’ 

Simon Harris, the Irish government’s Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, adds: ‘Addressing climate change and achieving sustainable and resilient food systems are intertwined challenges facing us all. This investment in two new collaborative research centres is a major development in addressing these pressing issues in a coordinated and concerted way.   

‘I’m delighted to see the very best minds and methods being brought together to create a dynamic research network across Ireland, Northern Ireland and Great Britain.’  

Katrina Godfrey, Permanent Secretary at Northern Ireland’s Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, says: ‘The Co-Centres programme is an excellent example of government funders working in partnership to support researchers and industry who will undertake cutting-edge research in areas of mutual economic, societal, health and environmental importance.   

‘I am particularly pleased that researchers in Northern Ireland will be integral to the establishment of these Co-centres.’ 

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