The UK and Irish Governments have announced £60 million joint funding for two new research centres on climate and sustainable food.

The funding, which is part of the Co-Centres Programme, will see two research centres built to bring researchers from Ireland and the UK together, working on methods to secure the food chain and tackle climate change.

The Co-Centre for Climate and Biodiversity and Water will research climate change and biodiversity loss, while the Co-Centre for Sustainable and Resilient Food Systems will be the home to the development of solutions for sustainable change within food systems in the transition to climate-neutrality by 2050.

The Food Systems Co-Centre will undertake a research programme across four platforms – Sustainable Food, Food Safety and Integrity, Nutrition and Health, and Food Systems Data Modelling.

The Co-Centres programme is funded over six years, with up to €40 million from Science Foundation Ireland (SFI), up to £17 million from Northern Ireland’s Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) and up to £12 million through UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), and is co-funded by industry.

The announcement was jointly made in Dublin by the Irish Government’s Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris, 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.

Seizing “opportunity for growth”

Michelle Donelan said: “As I know from my own family links, the UK and Ireland share deep ties – and in today’s fast-moving world, we share many of the same challenges, too.

“From our ground-breaking 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.”

Minister 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 coordinated 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.”