A new research initiative has been launched to support projects that will help provide solutions to key challenges affecting the sustainability of the UK crop and livestock sectors. The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) is working in partnership with the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) to deliver the Sustainable Agriculture Research & Innovation Club (SARIC). SARIC will be investing up to £10M over the next five years to address key challenges to these sectors, as identified by industry.
A rapidly increasing global population, climate change and the fight for dwindling resources are putting global food security at increasing threat. SARIC will bring together the environmental and biological science research base with industry, exploiting knowledge to progress towards more sustainable agricultural systems for the future.
Over the next five years, this public-private partnership will invest up to £10M to address key challenges. Through consultation with industry, trade associations, levy boards, policy makers and academia, water and nutrient related challenges were identified as key areas for focus.
Specifically SARIC will be launching funding calls for the following challenges:
• Resilient and robust crop and livestock production systems
• Predictive capability & modelling for new technologies, tools, products & services
Having informed and helped to define the challenges for SARIC, the club's industry members will continue to steer the programme and participate in funding discussions. Following initial consultation, a total of 11 companies have joined the research and innovation club:
• Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board
• Anglian Water
• Barworth Agriculture Ltd
• Bayer Crop Science
• Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water
• Elsoms Seeds
• Marks and Spencer
• Processors and Growers Research Organisation
• URSULA Agriculture
Dr Celia Caulcott, BBSRC Director of Innovation and Skills said: "We are delighted to be collaborating with NERC and the partner companies to support research in the important area of sustainable livestock and crop production. It is particularly pleasing that we have companies joining SARIC that have not been involved in a research and innovation club before. These clubs are an excellent route to companies engaging with our excellent research base, encouraging partnership in addressing some of the major challenges that the world faces."
Professor Iain Gillespie, NERC Director of Science said: "This innovative partnership will address one of the key challenges facing our society; how we are going to feed a growing population in a time of rapid environmental change. By working in partnership with businesses and other research councils, we can bring a range of perspectives to bear on these issues, and ensure that the excellent UK research base is translated into tangible benefits for society."
£10M of funding will be made available through two calls, the first of which opens today. Approximately £5M of funding will be available at this stage for both research grants (£3.5M) and research translation (£1.5M).