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Minister Coughlan Highlights Food Research Achievements at Royal Irish Academy Dublin

"Investment in knowledge and innovation is pivotal to continued economic success"

The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Mary Coughlan T.D., today reiterated her commitment to building an innovative, competitive and consumer focussed agri-food industry and called on industry to develop partnerships with the research institutes in driving forward their research agendas.

Speaking at the Royal Irish Academy in Dublin where she launched her Department's 2007 edition of "Quality Food Founded on Science", Minister Coughlan said that investment in knowledge and innovation is pivotal to continued economic success. In this regard the Government has steadily increased funding for research with the national Strategy for Science, Technology and Innovation 2007-2013 foreseeing a doubling in research funding and in the number of PhD's produced over the period.

Calling on the key stakeholders to work closely together for the optimum benefit of the industry, Minister Coughlan stressed the importance of industry involvement in R&D and emphasised that partnerships between research institutions and industry are key to the development of the food sector."In order to strengthen this process I recently established a Research Group of stakeholders, chaired by industry, to advise on the food research agenda and to underpin the development of the food industry. This Group has commenced its work and I look forward to seeing the outcomes of this closer alliance between industry and the research community", the Minister stated.

On launching the 2007 edition of "Quality Food Founded on Science", which features a snapshot of projects funded under the Food Institutional Research Measure (FIRM) which completed in 2006, Minister Coughlan paid tribute to the research teams for the standard of research work carried out under the programme. "High quality, public good research does not always get the credit it deserves. I am delighted therefore to pay tribute to the researchers involved in the FIRM programme and to see some of their food research achievements highlighted in this publication. Their ambition, innovative thinking and good science reflect well on the capability of Irish food research institutions", the Minister added.

Commenting on the research projects featured in the publication Minister Coughlan congratulated the 23 researchers who obtained professional qualifications for research work carried out on these completed projects. She said that imaginative solutions are required to meet the competitiveness challenges and opportunities of the modern global food sector and the research community has responded to her Department's introduction of strategic initiatives under the FIRM programme in relation to equipment, knowledge networks and graduate development. Collaborative research initiatives have also been developed in the areas of Marine Functional Foods and Food for Health to ensure that the needs of stakeholders are to the fore.

The event, which included representatives of research institutes, industry and consumers, who participated in a Round Table panel discussion on the merits of a robust research programme for the food industry. In the panel discussion Minister Coughlan highlighted the Government's commitment to R&D and the importance of innovation to the future prospects of the Irish food industry. Prof. Paddy Cunningham, the State's Chief Scientific Advisor, outlined the national science strategy and how it will lead to a knowledge based bio economy. Frank Hayes of the Kerry Group discussed the importance of R&D in ensuring competitiveness in the Irish agri-food sector, following which Paula Mee, nutrition consultant, emphasised the importance of scientific knowledge to the consumer with regard to the foods they eat and how that knowledge can and should be used for the benefit of the consumer.

The event also included a visual display highlighting the research outputs of the projects featured in the publication, and a prize of €1,000 was awarded to the team involved in putting together the best visual project presentation.

The list of projects featured in the 2007 edition of "Quality Food Founded on Science" are set out in Annex I. Copies of the publication are available from the Food Division of the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (phone 01-6072142) and on the Department's website.

At the event Minister Coughlan also launched a booklet documenting Irish success in the Food Research theme in the 6th EU Framework Programme FP6, where Irish researchers secured over €15m in research funding. "The Framework Programme has assisted Irish researchers to build international multi disciplinary, inter institutional collaboration and these partnerships will serve Ireland well as we target further success in FP7", Minister Coughlan added.

20 November, 2007

Note for Editors:

FIRM is funded under the National Development Plan 2006-2013. FIRM finances public good research by qualified research institutions. Funding is awarded on a competitive basis and projects involving collaboration between institutions are encouraged in order to build up centres of excellence. The research results are disseminated through the RELAY project to food companies and institutions throughout Ireland. (

Projects featured in 'Quality Food Founded on Science'

Research Theme Area - Prepared Consumer Foods

  • Tailor-made ingredients for healthy beverages
  • Novel cooking and cooling technology
  • New cheese-flavoured sauces
  • Tastier cured meats

Research Theme Area - Food Packaging

  • Edible Packaging

Research Theme Area - Food Safety

  • Natural antibiotics from chicks
  • Faster tests for food poisoning
  • Unwanted chemicals in food

Research Theme Area - Food Processing waste

  • Clean-up of food processing waste

Date Released: 20 November 2007