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Minister Coveney announces Research Grant Awards of €10 Million for Agri Food Research

And launches strategic research agendas for food and agricultural production 

 The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney, TD, today announced grant awards of approximately €10 million for research projects being undertaken, on a collaborative basis, by researchers from 13 institutions across the island of Ireland. This funding is vital to the future development and growth of these industries which are at present providing a leading example of the success of Irish exports and are a key part of the Government blue print for this industry, Food Harvest 2020.

Speaking at an event in the Backweston Laboratory Campus near Celbridge, Co. Kildare, the Minister said the awards would "help to underpin the sector by putting valuable expertise, capacity and capability at the disposal of industry while also feeding the pipeline for future innovation and commercialisation in the sector". The Minister added that the "awards cover a broad spectrum of research themes including a Dairy Research Programme focused on cheese and infant formula; a Gaseous Emissions and Land Use Network to ensure a coordinated research effort on Greenhouse Gas mitigation in agriculture; and a programme on Forest Genetic Resources focusing on tree improvement efforts in both broadleaf and conifer species". Full details of these awards are set out in Appendix 1.

The Minister also formally launched two new documents: 'Food Research Ireland - meeting the needs of Ireland's food sector through research and innovation' and 'Stimulating Sustainable Agricultural Production through Research & Innovation' (SSAPRI). These were prepared over the last 12 to 18 months by Expert Advisory Groups operated by the Department and constitute strategic research agendas for food and agricultural production respectively. They identify a number of key investment areas that will help guide the content of future Calls by the Department and indeed other funding agencies. The Minister said "I would like to commend both Advisory Groups for all their efforts and especially thank Dan Browne who chaired the Food Group and Matt Dempsey who chaired the Agricultural Production Group for overseeing this process and ensuring delivery of these impressive documents. I believe their completion is very timely as it not only constitutes delivery of some Food Harvest 2020 key actions but also enables us to make an early start on implementing some of the priorities likely to emerge under the National Research Prioritisation Exercise".

Acknowledging that the main focus of the morning event had been on launching Food Research Ireland and SSAPRI, the Minister said he was "acutely aware that without the provision of adequate funding these documents will have no impact on our sector". He then added that he was "delighted to announce that the Department will soon be launching a new Call for Proposals that will draw on elements of both documents as well as containing a number of forest research topics, and urged the research community to "submit quality applications that make the best possible use of this funding thereby contributing further to achieving the Food Harvest 2020 targets".

Minister Coveney went on to congratulate all those involved in recent successes under Call 5 of the 'Food, Agriculture and Fisheries, and Biotechnology' Theme area of the EU 7th Framework Programme he concluded by urging "researchers and SME's alike to up their game and more aggressively pursue the increased funding opportunities that exist in the remaining years of FP7 and under its successor, Horizon 2020, which is likely to be much better resourced".

Photo PR 250/11 1 - 14.12.11 Photo PR 250/11 2 - 14.12.11 Photo PR 250/11 3 - 14.12.11

Notes for Editors

  1. The awards arise from a Call for Proposals launched in late 2010 under the three competitive, research funding programmes operated by the Department, namely, the Food Institutional Research Measure (FIRM), the Research Stimulus Fund (RSF), and the Programme of Competitive Forest Research for Development (COFORD).
  2. Food Institutional Research Measure (FIRM) has been in operation since 2000, and is the main programme for funding of food research in public research institutions in Ireland including Teagasc and the Higher Education Institutes (HEI).  The programme has funded 239 projects to date to the value of circa. €140m.
  3. Research Stimulus Fund (RSF) aims to facilitate research that fills gaps in the mainstream Teagasc programme, supports sustainable and competitive agricultural production practices and policies, and contributes to building and maintaining a knowledge economy and research capability in the agriculture sector. The programme has funded 113 projects to date to the value of circa. €48m.
  4. Programme of Competitive Forestry Research for Development (COFORD) is the primary source of forest research funding in Ireland.  It is responsible for the development of national forest research policy and priorities, the formulation and implementation of programmes that address these priorities and transferring the knowledge generated into practice. It aims to establish and strengthen links between research and industry; determine forest research needs to maintain international competitiveness, and to evaluate research progress and transfer technology to ensure maximum benefit.
  5. FP7 - EU 7th Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development, 2006-13 is a large Programme covering a wide area of Research.  It has a budget of €50 billion and its objective is to build a European Knowledge Economy, i.e. make Europe competitive with leading countries such as USA and Japan in knowledge generation and innovation. The Food, Agriculture and Fisheries, and Biotechnology (FAFB) theme of the Co-operation element of the Programme funds research in Sustainable Agricultural Production, 'Fork to Farm' Food, and Non-Food uses of Land (incl. forestry), Marine and Aquatic resources.  Research is multidisciplinary and involves International Partnerships. Department officials act as the National Delegate and National Contact Point for the FAFB theme which involves servicing its Programme Committee and also encouraging, assisting and supporting the participation of Irish researchers. They also participate in the work of the Irish FP7 Support Network, operated by Enterprise Ireland, which develops and coordinates an overall strategy to support and increase Irish researcher involvement in FP.
  6. 'Food Research Ireland - meeting the needs of Ireland's food sector through research and innovation' and 'Stimulating Sustainable Agricultural Production through Research & Innovation (SSAPRI)' are strategic research agendas developed by industry-led Food & Agri Expert Advisory Groups operated by the Department and can be used by the Department and other funding agencies to help guide to content of future research Calls.

Appendix 1

Details of grant awards under DAFM's 2010 Call for Research Proposals





Protection of bioactive peptides using novel encapsulation technologies

Teagasc, UCC, UL

Dr Andre Brodkorb / Dr Song Miao


Development of novel whey ingredients by protein-carbohydrate conjugation

UCC, Teagasc

Dr Seamus O'Mahony / Prof Daniel Mulvihill


The use of novel technologies for improving quality and process efficiency in high protein beverage production

Teagasc, UCD, UCC

Dr Mark Fenelon


National Cheese Research Programme 2015

Teagasc, UL, UCC, UCD, AFBI

Dr T Guinee


Infant Nutrition for Programming the Gut Microbiota in Neonates

Teagasc, UCC

Dr Catherine Stanton


Concept Protein Ingredient for Next Generation Infant Formulation

Teagasc, UCC

Dr Phil Kelly / Dr Seamus O'Mahony


Novel strategy for exploitation of milk glycoproteins in infant formula

NUIG, Teagasc

Prof Lokesh Joshi


Targeting the glycome of the milk fat globule membrane for anti-infective properties

Teagasc, NUIG

Dr Rita Hickey


Functional and biomedical application of milk fat globule membrane (MFGM) based phospholipid rich fractions

Teagasc, UCC

Dr P. M. Kelly


Optimisation of the production of the antimicrobial defensin peptides in lager strains of yeast, a natural defense against beer-spoiling bacteria


Prof Ursula Bond


Low residual antigenicity and reduced bitterness casein hydrolysates


Prof Dick Fitzgerald


A novel packaging system for food safety and shelf-life extension


Dr PJ Cullen


Controlling surface-activity of protein aggregates for their incorporation into nutritional formulation for optimised processibility.

Teagasc, UCC

Dr Andre Brodkorb


An economic analysis of the barriers to achievement of improved economic performance ofthe dairy farming sector.

Teagasc, UCC,UCD

Dr Bernadette O'Brien / Kieran Jordan


Examining the drivers of and barriers to the improved economic
performance of the dairy sector

Teagasc, NUIG

Dr Thia Hennessy


Volatility and Risk in Irish Agriculture

Teagasc, CIT, UCC

Trevor Donnellan


Gaseous Emissions - Agriculture and Land Use Network


Dr Gary Lanigan


Forest Genetic Resources Research Programme

UCD, National Botanic Gardens, Teagasc

Dr Conor O'Reilly


Health and Protection for Forests - Deer


Prof John O'Halloran


The spread of grey squirrels to the west of Ireland


Dr Colin Lawton


Multi-agent Control Options for Pine weevil


Christine Griffin


Detection, Epidemiology and Control of P.ramorum and P.kernoviae in Irish Forests

DAFM, AFBI, Teagasc, UL, UCD

Dr James Choiseul


Green' Novel Approach for Weevil Control


Dr Olaf Schmidt






Date Released: 12 December 2011