Hosted at Queen’s University, Belfast, the new Competence Centre will draw upon the research capabilities of Ulster University (UU), Queen’s University, Belfast and the Agri-food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI). The centre’s primary focus will be on improving the international competitive position of the Northern Ireland Agri-food sector through innovation and co-operative research. Financing for the centre is made up of £5million of research and development assistance from Invest NI and a £1.7million investment from industry partners.
Making the announcement at Balmoral Show, Jonathan Bell said: “The Northern Ireland Agri-Food Quest Competence Centre is the fourth in an initial series of Competence Centres being funded by Invest NI and industry partners, which are designed to rapidly transform great research into commercial success. “The Agri-food Sector ‘Going for Growth’ strategy sets out a vision for the Agri-food Industry and recognises that investment in research and development is a crucial component in the development of innovative products and in targeting export markets. This Competence Centre is vital to the success of that strategy. “The Centre will provide a platform for companies which want to pursue research projects in areas such as packaging, shelf-life, waste minimisation and food security. Not only will it support the development of our local food industry to compete strongly in export markets, it will also build on the Agri-food knowledge and skills that already exist in Northern Ireland. “I would encourage companies operating in the Agri-food sector to explore how this centre could benefit their business.”
Dr. David Dobbin, CBE, Chairman of the Northern Ireland Food & Drink Association said: “NIFDA has been working for four years with Invest NI, and our partners to bring this centre to fruition. Minister Bell’s department is to be congratulated for their support which has been crucial in helping to provide companies with exciting opportunities to collaborate with expert researchers from the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute, Ulster University and Queen’s University Belfast to help them develop high-quality products. “This development will improve the competitiveness of Northern Ireland’s biggest Industry.”
Prof Elliott QUB said: “The establishment of this industry-academia research partnership is essential to help local companies keep up with the fierce competition they face on the world's global markets. The Institute for Global Food Security at Queen's University is very proud to host this centre and will work alongside our industry partners to drive innovation across the Agri-food sectors.'