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Ministers McConalogue and Heydon Announce €24.2m in Research Grants

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue TD, and Minister of State with special responsibility for Research and Development Martin Heydon TD, announced funding of 20 research grants worth just over €24 million to support research across 16 institutes.

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine’s 2023 Thematic Research Call will support research across the agri-food, forest and bioeconomy sectors in areas including:

• Climate change
• Water quality and biodiversity
• Animal welfare
• Bovine TB
• Ash dieback
• Organic agriculture
• Forestry
• Food health and nutrition
• Food safety
• Farmer mental health

In this year’s successful research grants almost half of the total investment, €11.6 million across nine projects, relates to climate action and the agri-environment research.

Commenting on the announcement, Minister McConalogue said, “I am delighted to announce funding of over €24 million for 20 research projects arising from the 2023 Thematic Research Call. The work funded under our research calls is essential to equip farmers, foresters, and the wider agri-food sector with the tools needed to improve their economic, environmental, and social sustainability in the years ahead. It is also pivotal to developing the next generation of cutting-edge technologies and innovations that will ensure we are globally attractive and competitive as a food island.”

“I am impressed at the breadth of areas being funded, ranging from climate mitigation, water quality improvement and biodiversity restoration to animal health and welfare, food safety, and food health and nutrition, among others. I am also heartened to see that the projects will involve the education and training of over 40 postgraduate students and over 60 contract researchers, thus ensuring a continuous stream of highly skilled scientific talent coming through to our industry.”

Minister of State Heydon said, “when I launched the 2023 Thematic Research Call earlier this year, my objectives were to build research capacity, expertise and reputation in critical areas of importance, address research gaps and provide opportunities for early-stage researchers, encouraging collaboration across institutions and across scientific disciplines. In announcing this funding today of over €24 million from four research funders across the island, I firmly believe that the twenty projects involved will fulfil those objectives.”

“We are in a time of increasing uncertainty and challenges, further strengthening the capacity and capability of Ireland’s national agri-food, forest and bioeconomy research base is critical to underpinning its future competitiveness and sustainability. It is therefore vital that the results and outcomes of this research does not sit on a shelf. It must be communicated and translated into innovations, technologies, products, policies, or other deliverables so that this public good research has real world impact. I congratulate the twenty project coordinators and wish them and their teams every success over the coming years.”

As part of the on-going North-South co-operation on agri-food research and innovation, the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA), Northern Ireland collaborated in this research call by providing funding to enable eligible research performing organisations in Northern Ireland to participate in projects with partners in Ireland. A total of five projects will benefit from this collaboration. Some of the projects will also be co-funded by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS).

The author: Ryan Harmon