The Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine with responsibility for Research and Development, Martin Heydon, T.D. today launched a Call for Research Proposals under his Department’s updated competitive research funding programme. This is the first call under a restructured approach to research funding, seeking projects across key thematic areas including climate and biodiversity; sustainable animal and plant health and production; agri-digitalisation and the bioeconomy; and safe, healthy food production and processing.

On launching this new Call the Minister commented

“Research and innovation is absolutely critical if the agriculture sector is to prosper and respond effectively to the key overarching challenges of our time. This research programme will provide funding support to our top researchers to develop solutions for our farmers, foresters and food industry in areas such as competitiveness, sustainability and innovation.”

This new Call fully reflects the key strategic drivers both nationally (impending Agri-Food Strategy 2030) and internationally (EU Farm to Fork, Biodiversity & Circular Economy strategies of the EU Green Deal), and is designed to offer flexible and agile research opportunities to a wide variety of disciplines through a ‘systems-based’ approach.

The Minister added

“This research call is also a significant commitment to providing farmers and industry the tools and solutions they need to deliver on the ambitions of our new Ag-climatise Roadmap, published in recent days, and its goal of achieving a climate neutral food system by 2050. It is also the first call under the enhanced budgetary allocation I secured in Budget 2021 and which now stands at €18 million.’’

The Call will also create and disseminate knowledge to support resilience, not just in our agri-food system and the threats it faces, but the role it plays in enhancing biodiversity, providing ecosystem services, delivering wholesome nutritious food, and contributing to a sustainable circular bioeconomy. It will facilitate stakeholder engagement in the formulation and conduct of the research promoting knowledge exchange that will generate benefit to industry, policy and citizen stakeholders.

Minister Heydon said,

‘‘that the thematic nature of this Call builds on the significant success of the Department’s recent research awards. In addition, by helping to build and maintain agri-food and related bio-based research capability and capacity in Irish research performing organisations, the Call will position Irish researchers to successfully compete for EU Research and Innovation funding opportunities under the new Horizon Europe programme.’’

Importantly, as part of the on-going North-South cooperation on agri-food research and innovation, the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, Northern Ireland, has teamed up with the Department to provide funding to enable three research performing organisations in Northern Ireland to participate in this Call.