The University of Nottingham has launched a Food Systems Institute (FSI), which it says will bring together researchers from across disciplines and to work with industry and policymakers to deliver solutions to transform the food system.

The Institute’s initial research themes will focus on advancing climate adaptation and developing net zero food systems, understanding and improving community foodscapes, and addressing food insecurity and diet-related ill-health. FSI is engaging across the university to stimulate ideas and perspectives that can contribute to these research themes.

According to the University, FSI will strengthen Nottingham’s reputation as the only UK university offering research expertise and capabilities across the food system, covering everything from production and processing to transport, consumption, waste and sustainability.

New director appointed to the FSI

The Institute will be led by newly appointed director Jack Bobo. Bobo’s experience spans international law, food and environmental policy and behavioural science. He joins the University of Nottingham from The Nature Conservancy (TNC), one of the world’s largest conservation organisations, where he led teams of policy professionals specialising in fisheries, agriculture and freshwater. 

Bobo previously worked as chief executive officer at the food foresight company Futurity; chief communications officer and senior vice-president for Global Policy at the synthetic biology Interexon Corporation; and senior advisor for Global Food Policy at the US Department of State. 

He commented: “The establishment of the University of Nottingham Food Systems Institute comes at a critical moment. Food production has outstripped a growing global population, dramatically reducing hunger. However, that bounty has come with a cost, contributing to deforestation and biodiversity loss as well as rising obesity and diet-related chronic diseases.

“The food system is wildly complex and needs a more holistic, coordinated approach to these challenges. Our vision is to rethink how food is farmed, processed, transported and consumed and to develop new technological and economic models that drive positive change. 

“By enabling transdisciplinary research, the Food Systems Institute will allow experts to share knowledge and insights and secure a future where sustainable food production feeds the world, preserves our natural resources and protects the delicate balance of our planet.”