FOOD scientists in Irish research institutes and SMEs have secured €6.1 million in the latest round of the EU’s FP7 technical research funding.
Successful applicants included Teagasc, the Marine Institute, University College Dublin, Trinity College Dublin, University College Cork, and Limerick Institute of Technology. Irish researchers have secured over €20.3m to date since 2007 under FP7, the abbreviation for the Seventh Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development.
The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney said: "It is important for Irish researchers to participate in European collaborative programmes and this recent success indicates the high quality of research being conducted at Irish research institutes.
"The level of funding secured is very significant and a clear demonstration of the essential need to continue Ireland’s investment in R&D, particularly in relation to our most important indigenous sector."
The Minister congratulated in particular Dr Susanne Barth of Teagasc who is leading a research team from ten countries, on a project to enhance biomass production from marginal lands with perennial grasses.
The Minister attributed the success of Irish researchers to the research capability and expertise built up over the years as a result of national funding particularly through the Food Institutional Research Measure (FIRM) and Stimulus programmes operated by the Department.
These programmeshad provided a significant amount of national funding to develop the collaboration between research institutions and the know-how which created the conditions for success at European level. This national funding has built up a strong scientific cadre of Irish agri-food researchers and provides the basis which will undoubtedly assist themto compete in future calls under the EU Programme.
Minister Coveney added: "I now encourage researchers in Irish institutes and agri-food SMEs alike to pursue FP7 funding opportunities as aggressively as possible given that the amounts available will rise significantly under the two remaining Calls in 2012 and 2013."
FP7 is the singularly largest public good research programme in the world, with a budget of €50 billion over seven years. Some €1.9bn is dedicated to the theme food, agriculture, fisheries and biotechnology.