£750K For Innovative QUB Agri-Food Research Projects

Over £750,000 of funding has been awarded to three agri-food research projects at Queen's University Belfast as part of a research alliance with Ireland and the United States.

The US-Ireland Research and Development (R&D) Partnership promotes collaborative initiatives that create value and advance research in various areas, including the telecommunications and energy and sustainability sectors.

Led by a steering group of senior representatives from each jurisdiction, the partnership has awarded over £60million since its establishment 12 years ago, for collaborative research projects which allow the three regions to pave the way with ground-breaking trials and innovative ideas.

In the latest of a series of investments, the projects based at Queen's University will work to advance agri-food research in three areas; the control of the bovine tubercolosis (TB) infection and ways to reduce its impact, the development of an on-site diagnostic system for detecting disease in cattle, and a growth promoter to enhance weight gain and improve profitability in chickens.

Dr David Simpson from the Centre for Experimental Medicine at Queen's University Belfast said the funding will have a crucial role in helping farmers face the challenges of increasingly competitive agri-food sectors.

"We are delighted to have been selected in such a rigorously competitive process from amongst some of the world's leading academics and institutions. This cross-border collaboration and co-operation will help to expedite solutions to some of the global challenges facing agriculture and will boost local research and expertise to meet the needs of Northern Ireland's agri-food sector."
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The first initiative to benefit from a share of the £750k is 'Target-TB', a project in connection with University College Dublin that aims to harness naturally occurring genetic variation to generate cattle that are more resistant to TB, which is currently a huge financial burden on the agricultural sector.

In addition, 'AgriSense II' aims to challenge the current limitations to disease testing among cattle. In partnership with the Tyndall National Institute and Georgia Institute of Technology, this collaborative research programme will work towards developing an electronic sensor platform that can diagnose multiple infectious agents and detect viral infections that are critical to the health and performance of beef and dairy animals in Northern Ireland.

'NAGpro', on the other hand, will explore and develop growth promoters which can enhance weight gain in chickens and improve their yield, delivering on both profitability and quality for the consumer.

The R&D partnership is known for creating opportunities to advance specific areas of research, and is facilitated by InterTrade Ireland for both Northern Ireland and the Republic.

Grainne Lennon, International Funding and Collaborations Broker at InterTrade said the partnership helps to "stimulate higher levels of innnovation" in the region and accelerates economic development.

"By collaborating we are pooling research expertise from academic institutes in Northern Ireland, Ireland and the United States and leveraging additional investment to support projects that will undoubtedly benefit each of our jurisdictions.

"The Partnership has made 49 research awards and approved over £60million of funding to a wide range of projects since it was first launched 12 years ago. It is a tangible legacy of the peace process and despite the current uncertainty surrounding Brexit, try-jurisdictional collaborations are still very much taking place."


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