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New centres to research climate change and food sustainability

The co-centres will bring together academics, industry and policymakers across the Irish Government, UK Government and Stormont departments.

Simon Harris

Two new all-Ireland research centres on climate and sustainable food are to be created with funding of 70 million euro (£60.7 million).

The funding will bring together academics, industry and policymakers across the Irish Government, UK Government and Stormont departments.

One research centre will look at climate, biodiversity and water, while the other will be dedicated to researching sustainable and resilient food systems.

Each will be led by a team of academics from Great Britain, Ireland and Northern Ireland.

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Science minister Michelle Donelan announced the funding for the new research centres (Jordan Pettitt/PA)

The investment was unveiled by Irish and UK science ministers Simon Harris and Michelle Donelan along with Katrina Godfrey, permanent secretary at Stormont’s Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (Daera).

The two ministers are attending the British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference in Dublin.

Mr Harris said: “Addressing climate change and achieving sustainable and resilient food systems are intertwined challenges facing us all.

“This investment in two new collaborative research centres is a major development in addressing these pressing issues in a co-ordinated and concerted way.

“I’m delighted to see the very best minds and methods being brought together to create a dynamic research network across Ireland, Northern Ireland and Great Britain.”

Ms 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.”

Ms Godfrey said: “The co-centres programme is an excellent example of government funders working in partnership to support researchers and industry who will undertake cutting-edge research in areas of mutual economic, societal, health and environmental importance.

“I am particularly pleased that researchers in Northern Ireland will be integral to the establishment of these co-centres.”

The programme is funded over six years, with up to 40 million euro (£34.7 million) from Science Foundation Ireland (SFI), up to £17 million from Daera, and up to £12 million through UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), and is co-funded by industry.

The two new co-centres will formally commence activities in January and will be funded until 2030.

The programme takes forward commitments in the New Decade, New Approach Agreement to establish all-island research and innovation hubs.

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