Collaboration will deliver leap in sustainability progress

Ireland and the UK are to combine to fund two centres which will work on new solutions to the challenges posed by food sustainability, and climate change.

The two countries have announced a joint funding of £60 million that will bring academics, industry and policymakers closer to collaborate on food sustainability and tackling climate change. This will include collaboration between the Irish government, UK government and the Northern Ireland government departments.

The co-centres announcement was jointly made in Dublin by Ireland’s minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris, the UK government secretary of state for Science, Innovation and Technology, Michelle Donelan and permanent secretary at Northern Ireland’s Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, Katrina Godfrey.

Donelan said: “As I know from my own family links, UK and Ireland share deep ties, and in today’s fast-moving world, we share many of the same challenges, too. From our groundbreaking international work on AI, to our deal to join Horizon, the UK is determined to seize the opportunities for growth and prosperity that can be delivered, when we work together on science and tech with our neighbours.

“By bringing together the genius that exists across our islands, we will unlock the new ideas and inventions that will help us secure our food chains and tackle climate change, delivering innovative solutions for global good.”

The two successful co-centres are the Co-Centre for Climate + Biodiversity and Water and Co-Centre for Sustainable and Resilient Food Systems.

The Co-Centre for Climate + Biodiversity and Water will research the solutions needed from individual to systemic levels and provide the evidence-based tools to create positive change. Researchers will work with industry partners to identify and validate the innovations needed to thrive in a climate, nature, and water-positive world.

The Co-Centre for Sustainable and Resilient Food Systems will conduct translational research spanning food production to public health. This co-centre will develop innovative and transformative solutions to transition our food systems to ensure safe nutritious food for all while focusing on transition to climate-neutrality by 2050.

CEO of UK Research and Innovation, Dame Ottoline Leyser, added: “These new virtual research centres capture transformative opportunities for collaboration between academia, industry and policy-makers across Ireland, Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

“The investment announced today will engage the public, businesses and governments to address complex societal challenges, from sustainable food supply to climate change.

“Crucially, they will harness the power of research and innovation partnerships to ensure a coordinated and agile approach to addressing our shared challenges.”

The co-centres programme is funded by Science Foundation Ireland, Northern Ireland’s Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs and UK Research and Innovation through the International Science Partnerships Fund, and co-funded by industry.

Both co-centres will formally commence activities on 1 January 2024, and will be funded to 2030.