The N8 Research Partnership has secured multi-million pound funding for a programme which is set to transform food security research in the UK.
The Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) has awarded The N8 Research Partnership – a partnership of the eight research-intensive universities in the North of England (Liverpool, Durham, Lancaster, Leeds, Manchester, Newcastle, Sheffield and York) – a grant of more than £7 million through its Catalyst Fund to develop its Agri-Food Resilience programme.
A multi-disciplinary initiative, the Agri-Food Resilience Programme will build on the N8’s research strengths in science, engineering and the social sciences to address key global challenges in food security, including sustainable food production, resilient food supply chains, improved nutrition and consumer behaviours.
David Sweeney, Director of Research, Education and Knowledge Exchange at HEFCE, said: “Food security is a strategic priority for the nation. This investment will support higher education to deliver new translational research activity with business, and complements other agri-tech developments in the UK.”
Professor Dinah Birch, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Knowledge Exchange at the University, said: “Food security represents a major global challenge, on a scale that can only be tackled by researchers working across institutional and disciplinary boundaries, and Liverpool’s expertise will enable us to make a strong contribution to this initiative.”
Through the programme, the N8 aims to combine world-leading crop and livestock research – plus the facilities offered by six experimental farms across the N8 universities – with the partnership institutions’ expertise in social sciences, including business and management, to create a single research initiative focused on ensuring the stability of national and global agri-food supply chains.
The N8, which harnesses the strengths of the greatest concentration of bio-scientists engaged in agri-food research in the UK, will also work with farmers and other businesses to increase resilience and economic competitiveness, and develop new models and organisational capabilities for large scale, strategic research programmes.
Together, the N8 universities have an impressive track record in agri-food science, with more than 370 researchers working on projects in this area and a portfolio of £269 million of research funding over the last six years.
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