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The University of Bristol to Partner with FERA

Published: Tuesday, May 14, 2013
Last Updated: Tuesday, May 14, 2013
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Collaboration to help ensure vital research into the environment, food security and animal welfare is communicated and utilised by policy makers.

Research staff and students linked to the Cabot Institute will join forces with the Food and Environment Research Agency (FERA), whose role is to provide robust evidence, rigorous analysis and professional advice to Government, international organisations and the private sector.

It focuses on the big issues of developing a sustainable food chain, supporting a healthy natural environment and protecting the global community from biological and chemical risks, with over 600 research projects and over 7,500 government and commercial customers.

The new partnership between FERA and the University of Bristol will focus on food security, animal health and welfare, wildlife, pollinators and the environment.

The collaboration will lead to the co-funding of PhD students, staff exchanges, the implementation of joint Masters degree courses, joint bidding for research funding and working together to improve the impact and translatability of research.

Professor Eric Thomas, Vice Chancellor of Bristol University, and Professor Robert Edwards, Chief Scientist at FERA, signed a formal agreement to signify the start of the relationship. The Memorandum of Understanding was signed before the Cabot Institute’s External Advisory Board meeting – the first since Professor Sir John Beddington took over as Chair of the Board.

Professor Eric Thomas said: “We are delighted to be able to formalise this relationship with FERA. It brings exciting opportunities for new research which will address some of the most significant and complex environmental challenges faced by countries around the world.”

A joint workshop between scientists from the University and FERA identified a number of new overlapping research interests. These include developing machine vision and algorithms to automatically identify wildlife.

FERA’s Chief Scientist, Professor Robert Edwards, added: “This new collaboration maximises the synergies between the two organisations and will lead to the co-funding of PhD students, staff exchanges, the implementation of joint Masters degree courses and joint bidding for research funding.”

Paul Bates, Director of the Cabot Institute, said: “Food security and the environment are two areas of enormous importance to the UK, and are also key activities for the Cabot Institute. Collaborations of this nature are essential to tackle complex issues of farming, food and the land. We’re hopeful the partnership will lead to the University’s research being communicated and taken up by policy makers so that it can make a real difference.”

The Cabot Institute is also part of The Food Security and Land Research Alliance (FSLRA) – comprised of scientists from Exeter, Bristol and Cardiff universities, in partnership with Rothamsted Research – which brings together world-class expertise across a range of disciplines, from biosciences and agricultural science to economics and the humanities, to look at how we can sustainably feed a growing population.

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